Planning Commission plows ahead with Town Plan review

By Carol Casey

The Planning Commission tackled revisions to the housing and childcare sections of the proposed Town Plan when they met on Oct. 25. Commission member Toni Supple proposed deleting the objective of encouraging the development of housing options for elder residents because sufficient housing for this group currently exists. Furthermore, she argued, elder housing is no longer necessary or desirable, given the proportion of Shelburne’s population that is aging.  Instead, she suggested that the emphasis should be placed on developing options for younger families. Her colleagues, however, supported retaining the language concerning elder housing in the objective, which also mentions younger families specifically. Supple also disagreed with setting an objective of constructing an average of 45 new housing units per year, consistent with a rate of population growth of 110 persons per year. She preferred setting the growth rate at 25 persons for year, fearing that a greater increase in population would lead to more traffic congestion and be a drain on town services. Once again, her colleagues disagreed because Shelburne is likely to grow at a more rapid rate, and that such growth is desirable. Commission member Kate Lalley added that there are tremendous opportunities for developing affordable housing along Shelburne Road where new residents would have easy access to public transportation, thus mitigating any negative impact on traffic.  Commission members, however, did concur with their colleague Dick Elkins when he proposed deleting the objective of exploring “the creation of incentives that might increase production of housing via the development review process.”  Commissioners also agreed with his suggestion to delete density bonuses as a method for stimulating new affordable and workforce housing.

Turning to the section on childcare, the Commissioners agreed to delete the recommended action of encouraging “the Town’s larger employers to provide childcare services for their employees and explore the creation of incentives, in the zoning bylaws and elsewhere that might increase childcare opportunities via the development review process for developers.”

Earlier in the meeting, the Commissioners reviewed a draft amendment, with accompanying illustrations, to a zoning bylaw regulating the expansion of structures in the Lakeshore Overlay district.  They agreed to delete language requiring window openings to be proportional to the scale of the building facade as visible from Lake Champlain, and changed the language referring to “existing grade” to “finished grade.” They also asked Town Planner Dean Pierce to provide an illustration to clarify the point from which the total allowable height of a building would be measured.

Commissioner Lalley encouraged residents of Shelburne to vote on the November ballot item for funding the form-based code study for Shelburne Road north of the village.

Pierce reported that a Chittenden County Planning Conference will be held on Nov. 1 and 2, and that the Chittenden County Regional Commission will be meeting with the Selectboard on Nov. 13 to discuss the regional plan. He invited Planning Commission members and interested members of the public to attend.

The Planning Commission will meet again on Nov. 8 at 7 pm in the Municipal Center. Bernard Gagnon, director of public works, will meet with the Commissioners to inform their discussion about the transportation section of the Town Plan. The Commission is also likely to consider final wording of the zoning amendment concerning expanding buildings within the Lakeshore Overlay, and may discuss a zoning change to permit restaurants and/or retail establishments on Route 7 south of Marsett Road as requested by John Koerner of Folino’s Pizza at a previous meeting.

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