Planning Commission continues consideration of SSA boundaries

By Carol Casey

During the public comment period of the Planning Commission’s meeting on Feb. 28, a resident of Mt. Philo Road inquired about the status of the loop road, citing her concerns after having received a recent mailing on the topic which indicated that construction was imminent.  Town Planner Dean Pierce responded that the project “isn’t as far along as many people think it is.” Currently, only a traffic study of the intersection of Falls Road, Shelburne Road, and Harbor Road is underway. A planning study for a loop road may be started within the next couple of months, but there are “hundreds of steps before a loop street or road” is started and it “will undergo considerable community discussion in advance.”  Referring to a recent editorial by Commissioner Supple, Pierce stated that he had said the Selectboard could discuss whether there should be a loop road as early as this summer and whether to put the question before the voters. Given the environmental and historic preservation implications of constructing such a road, he said, an actual loop road is far in the future.

Commission Chair Brian Precourt underscored that there would be plenty of opportunity for the townspeople to weigh in on the issue before any final decision is made.

The Commission next heard from Charlie Baker, the Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC), who presented their ECOS Plan, focusing specifically on the 31 priorities and eight strategies it contains (see (www.ecosproject.com/plan).  He announced that two live broadcast training courses are planned at the CCRPC office on Saturday, April 13 on the topic of “The 21st Century Planning Commission” and Sunday, April 14 on “Zoning to Shape Urban Form,”  and invited Commission members to attend. 

The Planning Commission then addressed the questions of whether – and where – the boundaries of the Sewer Service Area (SSA) might be extended. Jim Kleptz, a long time Shelburne resident, strongly urged the Commission to take into consideration the fact that any development in the town increases the quantity of storm water run off, and the increased speed and volume of that run off erodes our creeks and rivers. Natural Resources Committee Chair Gail Albert concurred, stating that the Commission could use building codes to decrease the volume and speed of run off.       

Michaela Ryan, who farms New Village Farm and Agricultural Learning Center at 700 Harbor Road, asked that the farm be included on the town’s sewer system in order to provide toilet facilities for students visiting the farm and for milking and meat processing operations.  The farm is located on conserved land so there is “no likelihood for significant residential development” on the property in the future Frank Talbot wrote in a letter submitted to the Commission.

More generally, Commissioner Lalley stated that the SSA influences where we have development and what the density of that development will be. The SSA boundaries should be used to encourage development density where we want it and to discourage suburban sprawl and cul-de-sac development.

Commissioner Supple suggested looking at land within the current SSA boundaries that isn’t developed to find out why it isn’t developed and when or whether it will be developed before making any final decision.

Commissioner Elkins expressed his view that the current SSA boundaries are working quite effectively.

Commissioner Precourt suggested looking into the current allocations set aside to see whether they are still necessary. He cited as an example the allocation for a new school which is unlikely to be built.

Planning Director Dean Pierce was asked to provide the information requested by Commission members and draft some options for the Commission’s further at a future meeting.

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