Planning Commission denies O’Brien Brothers Agency Requests

By Carol Casey

At its meeting on June 27, the Planning Commission, by a vote of five in favor and none opposed, passed a motion to recommend to the Selectboard that no zoning change be made for the O’Brien parcel south of Irish Hill Road and north of Thomas Road.  The O’Briens had requested that the zoning be changed from rural to residential which would enable them to build a clustered development with 80 or more homes, rather than the approximately 32 homes permitted under the current regulations. Planning Commission Chair Brian Precourt and Commission member Ann Hogan abstained.  The Commission also suspended any further discussion of expanding the boundaries of the sewer service area which, in effect, denied the request of the O’Brien Brothers Agency to extend sewer service to this parcel.  The Commission will review its previous decisions about extending sewer service to other parcels of land at their next meeting.

Precourt had previously opened the meeting by extending the condolences of the Commission members to the family of David Conard who recently passed away.  He commended Conard on his years of service to the Shelburne community as Chair of the Development Review Board, and noted that he will be missed.

Precourt then introduced the newest member of the Planning Commission, Jaimison (Jaime) Heinz.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, Ken Albert of Shelburne Vineyard asked the Commission to review the regulations concerning temporary signs.  He reported that the sandwich board signs they like to use in front of their establishment to advertise special events are not currently permitted, and requested that less stringent requirements be adopted.  He noted that his business attracts some 20,000 people annually, including residents and tourists, thus contributing significantly to Shelburne’s economy.  Precourt agreed to have the Commission consider the requested changes.

The Commission next heard a presentation by Meredith Birkett of the Chittenden County Transit Authority (CCCTA) concerning the CCTA’s long term planning document.  Future plans include increasing the frequency of bus service in Shelburne to 15 minute intervals between buses and providing more evening and weekend service.  A feeder service linking Charlotte to Shelburne is also contemplated, as well as enhanced bus shelters, instituting a “smart card” payment system, and providing WiFi for commuters.

William Dodge of Downs Rachlin Martin then presented a revised proposal by VTel Wireless to install a 75’ wireless communications pole on Air Park Road.  Previously, they had proposed siting the pole at 144 Air Park Road, but were now recommending the Magee Hangar as the site because no trees would have to cleared, there is an existing access road, and this site is set back further from Air Park Road and neighboring residences than two other sites that were evaluated. Installation of the pole would enable VTel to provide high speed internet service to some 2,600 Chittenden County residents.  Town Planner Dean Pierce noted that the pole would extend some 25 to 30 feet above the tree tops and would be visible on Route 7 for approximately 3,000 feet just south of the Teddy Bear Factory. An audience members reported that the pole would also be visible at certain points on Lime Kiln Road, Spear Street and Thompson Road. Other sites, such as Shelburne Green and Vermont Teddy Bear, had been considered but found unsuitable. Several residents on or near Air Park Road spoke in opposition to this location. Commission Chair Precourt noted that the Planning Commission had no authority to approve or deny VTel’s application, but rather can only express an opinion to the Public Service Board which will make the decision. Dodge agreed to explore other alternative locations and report back to the Commission.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission is scheduled for Thursday, July 11 at 7 pm in the Municipal Center.

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