What’s next for a Vision for 7?

By Carol Casey

That’s a question the Planning Commission will address in the future. The ballot measure to provide not more than $70,000 for a consultant to develop a Form Based Code and implementing regulations for Route 7 north of Webster Road failed by just 32 votes in the Nov. 6 election. Although 4,555 Shelburne residents voted in the election, only 3,724 voted on the ballot initiative, meaning 831 Shelburne voters didn’t express an opinion. The closeness of the outcome and the fact that so many residents didn’t vote on this issue makes it difficult to ascertain the will of the community. Commission member Kate Lalley, a strong proponent of Form Based Code, was not present at the Commission’s meeting on Nov. 8, and the next steps the Commission might take will be deferred until she and Commissioner Tucker Holland, also absent Thursday night, have an opportunity to convey their views.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, Dick and Peg Meunier asked the Commission to reconsider the density and lot size requirements applicable in the Rural zoning district. The Meuniers own a 10.1-acre property, which they would like to subdivide into two five acre lots, the minimum size allowable in this district. However, because of a “steep slope” on the property, only 8.8 acres qualify under the current zoning bylaws, thus preventing a subdivision of the land. Commission Chair Brian Precourt noted that applicable bylaws are somewhat inconsistent in that building on steep slopes is not prohibited and is often feasible, yet the steep slope measurement is taken into consideration in determining density. He promised that the Commission would review the relevant bylaws at a later date.

The Commission then moved on to reviewing the Transportation and Citizen Participation sections of the Town Plan. Commissioner Burks requested that Town Planner Dean Pierce propose new language for a section on Parking to be included under Transportation since it is such an important issue within the town. Precourt recommended that the new section also address shared parking options since that has worked well in adjacent towns. The Commission did delete a recommended action related to constructing sidewalks along at least one side of roads in the Village and the designated Growth Area on the grounds that it was too broad. While generally in favor of sidewalks, the Commission felt they should not be mandated for short and even dead end streets. In those cases, residents could petition for a sidewalk if they so desired. The Commission also dropped a proposed recommended action that called for the adoption of an ordinance prohibiting motorized aircraft take-offs or landings at locations other than existing airports or airstrips because it would prevent residents from landing their own private airplanes on their own property.

Rob Donahue, chair of the Bike and Pedestrian Paths Committee, urged the Commission to require, rather than merely ask, subdividers to grant easements of planned paths and trails as part of the subdivision approval process, and to require, rather than simply encourage, bicycle lanes on roads with an average daily vehicular count of 3,000 or higher. The Commission members, however, left the language unchanged.

No amendments were made to the draft section on Citizen Participation.

The Commission then moved on to final consideration of the draft lakeshore overlay zoning proposal. Commissioner Dick Elkins recommended dropping the definition of “basement” since it was no longer relevant now that volume would not be measured.  The Commission agreed, and will warn a public hearing on the amendments for its Dec. 13 meeting.

In response to Mr. Koerner’s request at a previous Commission meeting to allow food service uses, such as Folino’s Pizza, in the Commerce & Industry South District, the Commission discussed alternatives drafted by Pierce. Commissioner Supple favored Alternative A, which would create a new mixed-use district along both sides of Shelburne Road from Webster Road south to Vermont Teddy Bear. She believes such a change would stimulate new business development in this area, contributing to Shelburne’s economy. She would like to see locally owned restaurants, bakeries, gift shops, and similar commercial ventures in this corridor. Commissioner Precourt, however, favored Alternative B, which would limit development to new businesses located in existing structures, thus giving current owners more options for using their property but avoiding what would likely be a long, drawn out process of creating a new district. The Commission will continue its discussion at a future meeting.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Planning Commission will not hold a 2nd meeting in November. Their next meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 pm in the Municipal Center. Public Works Director Bernie Gagnon is scheduled to update the Commission members on town and regional transportation issues at the meeting.

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