Planning Commission recommends feasibility study for loop road

By Carol Casey

At its meeting on Sept. 13, the Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Selectboard apply for a municipal grant to conduct a feasibility study of a loop road around the village. The town applied for but did not receive a grant for this purpose last year.

The Planning Commission will also be applying for a grant for the “Vision for 7” effort from Vermont’s ECOS project.  (ECOS stands for Environment, Community, Opportunity, and Sustainability.) A number of proposals were received and reviewed and have been narrowed down to two finalists. One will be selected this week.  The Selectboard agreed last week to put a measure on the November election ballot to designate $7,000 in town funding to supplement grant monies for this project

In other business, Town Planner Dean Pierce gave a presentation on official town maps, a tool used in some towns to show “future street alignments, planned trails, sites reserved for public buildings, and areas reserved for stormwater and flood control.”  The map is then used in the development review process to inform applicants and developers of accommodations that might need to be made in their proposals to conform with the map. Both Hinesburg and South Burlington have official town maps. Commissioners Burks and Supple expressed reservations about adopting an official town map, saying it would raise eminent domain concerns among property owners, while other Commissioners were more favorable to the concept.  Pierce pointed out that the maps contained in the Town Plan are required by state law in most instances but none of them have the same status as an “official town map.”

The Commission adopted suggested revisions to the introduction of the energy section of the Town Plan. Now that all the introductory material has been reviewed and approved, the Commission will next turn its attention to reviewing the full text of each section to determine whether any amendments should be made before holding a public hearing on the revised plan.

The Commissioners also discussed the elements for a new regulation concerning the expansion of non-conforming structures in the lakeshore overlay district.  They decided to drop the measurement based on volume standard and instead set a height limit from existing grade level, ban expansion of the footprint of any non-conforming area of the structure, require conformity with neighboring structures, and include certain “masking” criteria that would enhance the view from the lake, such a specifying color, rooftop design, and materials to be used. Pierce will draft specific language incorporating these requirements for the Commission’s consideration at their next meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 pm in the Town Center.

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