July 15, 2020 PC Minutes

August 13, 2020

SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION                                                       July 15, 2020


Members Present: Doug Patterson, Chair; Sandy Gregg, Vice-Chair; David Roy; Michele Gammal; Jonathan Shaw.

Public Present: Tim Maxham; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA)


6:01PM – Doug Patterson called the meeting to order.


Changes to the Agenda

There were none.


 Annual Reorganizational Meeting

Sandy Gregg nominated Doug Patterson to the position of Commission Chair; David Roy second.  All in favor.


Jonathan Shaw nominated Sandy Gregg to the position of Commission Vice-Chair; Michele Gammal second.  All in favor.


Sandy Gregg nominated Martha Taylor-Varney as Commission Secretary; Jonathan Shaw second.  All in favor.  Sandy asked that the minutes reflect that David Roy will be the Clerk when the Secretary is not available.


Update Planning Commission Rules of Procedure

Sandy Gregg moved to approve and sign the amended Rules of Procedure, David Roy second.  All in favor.


Continue Discussion on comments from the July 1, 2020 public meeting on a Junk Ordinance

Jonathan Shaw – The Commission needs to recognize that it is difficult to determine what is considered junk and how to define it.  Who makes that decision?  The Health Officer takes care of some junk issues if they are related.  Would an ordinance apply to farms?  Would it apply to private roads?  The possibility of the Town having to incur legal costs to enforce this could be high.  He suggested that approaching and talking to the landowner would be less threatening and gets results.  An ordinance may not reach the goal.  We need to know what statutes the State has that may already cover some of the issues here in South Hero.  You don’t want to single out people based on socio economics or personal values.

Michele Gammal – The Town needs to be prepared, with something enforceable, in case of an environmental nuisance.  An ordinance gives the Town credibility.  Could a lien by the Town be a way to encourage compliance?  The ordinance would be based on health and environmental reasons – not aesthetic.

David Roy – The Town needs a universal approach, setting a standard that is applied the same for everyone.

Sandy Gregg – Sees this as having 3 Categories: a Health Issue, Environmental Concerns, and Impacts on Property Values and Safety.  She would like to go on some site visits to see firsthand some of the areas that have caused complaints.  How do other Towns enforce their junk ordinances?

Doug Patterson – The problems are progressive.  They start out small then continue to grow to a point where it is hard to resolve them.  The Town needs to set a good example by cleaning up the Town Garage area, which is in the new South Hero Village Zoning District and within full view of RT 2.  A general ordinance is needed that can be enforced.


Arrangements will be made for the Commission to have some site visits at a time other than their regular meeting day/time.


Continue Discussion on the definition of “Industrial”

Jonathan Shaw suggested that Table 2.1 (allowed Uses) in the recently updated Development Regulations be amended to allow the DRB to decide whether an application for an industrial use in either of the Village Zoning Districts could be approved with conditional use and site plan review.  Currently, ‘industrial’ is not allowed in these Districts. He suggested letting the DRB interpret the standards in the Regulations and set conditions.  If the Applicant can meet them, then the application can be approved.   David Roy suggested letting the DRB apply reasoned judgement to each application rather than rejecting an application outright.  Some proposed industrial uses could be okay.  One way to establish a threshold would be if there is an EPA permit required.  If there is no negative environmental impact based on EPA regulations, it could be considered by the DRB.  Doug Patterson referenced Section 203 (Zoning District Purposes), where “small, low-impact industry” is encouraged in the Village districts, pointing out the contradiction between that Section and Table 2.1.  How can the DRB deny any industry base on the broad definition of ‘industrial’ in the Regulations?  Sandy Gregg suggested letting the DRB use their judgement, guided by the Regulations.  The Commission agreed not to redefine “industrial” in Article 10 and instead follow the lead of Section 203.


Jonathan Shaw moved to recommend to the Selectboard that “Industrial” in Table 2.1 of the 2020 Development Regulations be amended to C/S [conditionally permitted with site plan review] from X [Prohibited] in the South Hero Village District and Keeler Bay Village District;  Sandy Gregg second.  All in favor.


Public Input

Tim Maxham asked the Commission that, per Sec. 204.B(3), if the Planning Commission is given the opportunity to submit written or oral recommendations regarding a use not included in Table 2.1, do the Commission members respond individually or should it be as a group?  The Commission agreed that it should be as a group.  Going forward, the Zoning Administrator will add to the agenda of the next PC meeting any request for DRB review of a use not listed in Table 2.1.


Meeting Minutes

Sandy Gregg moved to approve the minutes of July 1, 2020; Michele Gammal second.  All in favor.


New/Old Business  

  • Meeting Schedule – The Commission will continue with the regular August meeting schedule.
  • A draft application form created by the ZA for Determination of an Allowed Use Not Listed In Table 2.1 was distributed to the Commission members and will be reviewed at the next meeting.



Administrator’s Report

The ZA gave the Commission members amended pages for the Regulations reflecting the amended Table 2.1 approved by the Selectboard at their 7/13 meeting.  Further amendments of tonight’s discussion will be added after/if the Selectboard approves at their 7/27 meeting.


The next meeting is August 5, 2020 at 6PM at the Town Office



7:25PM – Sandy Gregg moved to adjourn; David Roy second.  All in favor.


Respectfully submitted,

Martha Taylor-Varney, ZA



Signed: ________________________________________ Date: _____________________

For the Planning Commission


These minutes are unofficial until approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting.  All motions were unanimous unless otherwise indicated.


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