Planning Commission holds hearing on zoning changes Sept. 12

by Carol Casey

At its meeting on Aug. 8, the Planning Commission reviewed proposed language for five zoning changes that were discussed at previous meetings, voting to move ahead with a public hearing on Thursday, Sept.12 on four of the changes.

These changes include:
• Allowing temporary signs without a permit on Route 7 in the Commerce & Industry South and Residential Zoning District, south of Marsett and Bostwick Roads
• Allowing restaurants to have outdoor seating areas but must be screened from adjacent residential properties
• Allowing restructuring of existing structures in the Lakeshore Overlay setback by shifting them laterally (as long as the Lakeside Wall does not increase, the building foot print remains the same, and other requirements are met)
• Allowing restaurants in the Commerce & Industry South District, under certain conditions.

The Commission did not approve proposed language that would have exempted existing properties of 15 acres or less in the rural district from the developable area requirement so that these lots could be subdivided into lots of not less than five acres each. Several Commission members argued that such a change was arbitrary and would treat landowners of various size lots differently. They are likely to revisit the issue of the “developable area” concept as it applies generally at a later date. Some Commissioners feel strongly that the “developable area” rule is an important tool in controlling density – but others disagree.

Earlier in the meeting, the Commission reviewed the draft letter to the Public Service Board (PSB) concerning the proposed VTel tower on Air Park Road. Once again, several neighbors of the project voiced their objections to the tower, stating that in addition to violating several town ordinances, the tower would negatively impact property values, be unsightly, and serve residents of Charlotte more than those of Shelburne. They pointed out that there are other sites in Shelburne that could accommodate the tower, conform to town ordinances, and provide better coverage. They criticized the draft letter for being “overly positive” about the VTel proposal. A majority of the Commission members agreed with the residents and made significant revisions in the draft language. The letter now acknowledges that locating within a residential area would violate Shelburne’s Ordinance for Towers and Telecommunications Facilities but “other sites within the Town would be viable” options. The letter went on to reiterate the conditions the Planning Commission would like the PSB to attach if they approve VTel’s petition. The Commission urged neighbors to appear before the PSB to make their views known when a PSB hearing is held.

Commission Chair Brian Precourt announced his intention of attending a meeting of the Development Review Board to hear concerns about zoning changes they believe ought to be clarified or amended. These items may be added to the Planning Commission’s work plan for the coming months. Each Planning Commission member was asked to recommend three topics for the work plan that they are “passionate about.” Town Planner Dean Pierce urged them to focus on issues that will have the greatest impact on the town in the next ten years, suggesting they look first at recommended actions in the Town Plan that the Planning Commission is responsible for implementing. Precourt suggested that they focus on the Village, especially looking at traffic and parking issues.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7 pm in the Municipal Center. The agenda is likely to include a report from the consultants on the intersection study.

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