Planning Commission discusses telecom, stormwater issues

By Carol Casey

The Planning Commission members heard from experts on telecommunications and stormwater issues at their meeting on May 8. Kurt Oughstun, a professor of engineering and mathematical sciences at UVM, offered to assist the Commission as it maps potential suitable locations in Shelburne for telecom towers. Oughstun said it was essential to know where signals would be coming from and where they were headed since towers need to be in direct line of each other to function. He noted that fiber optics offer more secure and reliable transmission, capable of handling larger loads. He and Town Planner Dean Pierce will meet later to plan the next steps in mapping potential sites in town that would not interfere with scenic views.

The Commission adopted an addition to the Town Plan regarding towers and telecom facilities that listed specific goals and three policies implementing those goals designed to strengthen Shelburne’s position in future dealings with the Public Service Board.

Juli Beth Hinds, the founder of Birchline Planning LLC and the former planning director for the City of South Burlington, followed with a presentation on stormwater and water quality issues. She recommended that the town set up a stormwater management fund, perhaps in conjunction with neighboring towns, and that property owners be required to file maintenance records for their stormwater management structures.

Commission Chair Kate Lalley then drew members’ attention to the map of the draft regulating plan prepared by the consultants for the formed based zoning project, and encouraged members to attend the steering committee’s meeting on May 12. Another steering committee meeting is scheduled for June 12.

Commission member Dick Elkins said that the Planning Commission needs to change its procedures to conform with the town’s conflict of interest policy; not only do members need to recuse themselves when a conflict of interest arises, but they must leave the room while the matter is discussed. He argued that the policy was not followed at the Commission’s last meeting, but Commissioner Brian Precourt disagreed. Precourt responded that the rules do not require a member to leave the room after recusing themselves, and announced that he is resigning from the Commission after this meeting. Lalley thanked Precourt for his years of dedicated service on the Commission.

Commissioner Ann Hogan extended her thanks to all the organizers and volunteers who made Green Up Day so successful in Shelburne. She suggested that the Commission might want to include a sentence in the vision statement of the town plan that we want a clean town, free of litter.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be Thursday, May 22 at 7pm in the Municipal Center.