Planning Commission hears details of Form Based Code proposals

By Carol Casey
Ted Brovitz of Howard/Stein-Hudson, a consultant for the Form Based Code project, briefed the Planning Commission at its June 12 meeting about the proposed regulating plans, permitted use, functional standards, building form standards, and building form types. The regulating plan establishes seven “character districts” along Shelburne Road, including a “mixed use village” district centered around Longmeadow Drive intended to draw people to “work, shop and play” in a pedestrian-friendly environment. The building types allowed in each district would be function specific, with different height limitations dependent upon district. Placement of buildings would also vary between districts. These standards aim to protect neighborhood integrity while allowing structural variation in commercial or mixed districts.  The proposed standards for use of architecture and landscape elements all aim to create an experience that will not clash with the current look and feel of the town.

Twelve different building types are defined for the districts, but no standards are set for materials, color, or specific architectural style. The plan also sets standards for 12 different types of public and private open space such as parks, squares, plazas,etc. The consultants requested more time to complete their work, asking that the schedule be pushed past the original Aug. 11 date for a joint presentation to the Selectboard, Planning Commission, and Design Review Board.  In that time they will flesh out the details on both public realm and site development standards, pre-existing lots, uses and structures, and administrative procedures.

The Commission next considered a request from David Mullin, Executive Director of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, for a waiver of impact fees for two duplexes Habitat is constructing in Harrington Village.  The Planning Commission previously supported the waiver of those fees for other portions of the Harrington Village project upon the request of Champlain Housing Trust. The total value of the fee waiver would be $2,889, a cost that would otherwise be passed on to the home buyers. Mullin pointed out that the homes are reserved for families at or below 60 percent of the median income.  He also noted that this would be the first Habitat project in Shelburne. Commission Chair Kate Lalley strongly supported the waiver, but Commission member Dan Burks stated that he did not believe the Commission should be making fiscal decisions effecting Shelburne taxpayers; those decisions should be made by the Selectboard.  The other Commission members agreed with Burks but most pointed out that their position did not mean they would be opposed to having the Selectboard grant a waiver.  The ultimate decision was left to the Selectboard, although the Planning Commission has the opportunity to weigh in as affordable housing is a specific goal in the Town Plan.

The Commission also considered draft language regarding building coverage in the Village Center District as well as lot coverage and side and rear setback requirements for PUDs and Redevelopment PUDs as discussed at a previous Commission meeting.  The Commission decided to develop Village Center District specific standards rather than alter those applying in other districts.

Town Planner Dean Pierce announced that the balloon test for a possible telecommunications tower off Bishop Road had been cancelled, and that apparently this site is “off the table” as a potential tower location.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Thursday, June 26 at 7pm in the Municipal Center.  The agenda will include a presentation on the new state lakeshore zoning regulations and a panel on housing issues.

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