Public hearing on proposed zoning changes held by Planning Commission

By Carol Casey

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on July 26 on zoning changes they had proposed – but no one attended. After some discussion as to whether the proposed language should be amended, the Commission voted to send them unchanged to the Selectboard for their consideration. One amendment directs the Development Review Board to solicit testimony on building and design issues from the Shelburne Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission (HPDRC) on applications for commercial PUDs and Mixed-Use PUDs in the Mixed Use Zoning District. In essence, this expands the role of the HPDRC from just the Village District to the Route 7 corridor with the intent of promoting higher quality building design. Another amendment deletes a specific requirement that 30 percent of a facade in a mixed use district be glass and that at least one-third of the building’s perimeter be treated with plants and shrubs. Instead, the Commission struck the quantitative requirements and replaced the numerical standards with qualitative language requiring that a “significant portion” of windows or windows-like features be incorporated in a facade and a “significant portion” of a foundation’s perimeter be treated with plants and shrubs. They also defined “human scale” more specifically. The Commissioners stated that these changes would allow more creativity in building design resulting in a better end product. The modifications are considered interim steps toward adopting a form-based code, and will not go into effect until approved by the Selectboard.

In other business, Commission Chair Brian Precourt reported on the Selectboard’s reaction to the two revised chapters of the proposed Town Plan submitted to them by the Commission, noting that the response was generally positive and that written comments are expected shortly. He would like the Commission to focus on reviewing and amending all of the other chapters in the proposed Town Plan in September and October, setting out a goal of holding a public hearing in November on the plan as amended. Commission member Toni Supple requested that the Commission reconsider including an official map for future land use in the town plan. She believes the Selectboard objected to the map and she shares their concern that it may infringe upon individual property owner’s rights by implying the town might exercise eminent domain in the future. Precourt thought the Selectboard’s objected to including the loop road proposed in the 2006 Village Plan in the map, and agreed to set time aside at a future meeting to discuss this further. One solution might be to incorporate alternative future land use maps rather than one map designated as “official.”

Town Planner Dean Pierce announced that the application to the Public Service Board for a windmill permit at Shelburne Farms has been withdrawn.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Aug. 9 at 7 pm in the Shelburne Municipal Center.

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