Planning Commission forwards four zoning changes to Selectboard

By Carol Casey

At its Sept. 12 meeting, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on four proposed zoning amendments:

  • Allowing temporary signs without a permit in certain areas south of the Village Center;
  • Requiring screening for outdoor restaurant areas only from adjacent residential properties;
  • Allowing lateral movement of existing structures within the Lakeshore Overlay setback, providing the building footprint is not enlarged, the new location is not closer to the lake, and the size of the lakeside wall is not increased; and
  • Allowing restaurants meeting certain conditions to be located in the Commerce and Industry South district.

Only one member of the public commented on the proposals, stating that in regard to the Lakeshore Overlay district, the Commission should require that any changes make the structure less non-conforming. After some discussion, the Commission voted to close the public hearing and forward the proposed changes to the Selectboard as originally presented.

In the public comment period, Jared Hayes of Corning, N.Y. requested that the Planning Commission consider amending the acreage requirement for businesses along Shelburne Road. Hayes would like to open a pet care facility in the vacant building next to the Thai Restaurant, but the acreage requirement would prevent him from doing so. The Commission agreed to look into the issue.

Next, the Commission heard a presentation by Jim Pease of the Agency of Natural Resources concerning stormwater runoff issues along Shelburne Road between Martindale and Harbor View Roads. He reported there has been considerable erosion in the Nesti Swale and large amounts of phosphorus are being washed into the lake due to large areas of paved surfaces without stormwater runoff mitigation measures.

Commission member Ron Bouchard noted that the problem was exacerbated with the widening of Route 7. Pease reported that a retention pond may be built on the VELCO property just over the South Burlington line, alleviating some of the problem, but he encouraged the Commission to consider adopting a model low impact development stormwater management bylaw. The Commission agreed to consider stormwater management issues in the future.

The Commission next heard a detailed presentation by Greg Edwards, a Stantec consultant, on the U.S. Route 7/Falls Road/Harbor Road scoping report. The 56-page report outlines non-structural and long-range strategies, as well as four alternative active strategies for improving traffic flow at the intersection. Stantec has already held three stakeholder meetings about the proposals and will be seeking more public input. All four active strategies have common “complete street” components and intersection upgrades but vary in other aspects:

Strategy 1 would extend the northbound and southbound left turn lanes on Route 7, add an exclusive left turn lane on Harbor Road, add a southbound right turn lane on Route 7, extend the thru/left and right turn lanes along Falls Road, and increase the curb radius on the Falls Road approach.

Strategy 2 would make Falls Road one way eastbound from Route 7 to the Shelburne Shopping Park, thus requiring westbound Falls Road traffic and westbound Shelburne Shopping Park traffic to use Church Street westbound for a right turn onto Route 7 north.

Strategy 3 would restrict movements from Falls Road to right turns only.

Strategy 4 is a modified version of Strategy 1, removing the proposed Route 7 southbound right turn lane.

The consultants are not recommending a specific alternative at this time, but Edwards noted that Strategy 4 would have the least impact on historic resources, a critical component in acquiring federal grants. They will be seeking further public input and presenting their report to the Board for their feedback.

Lastly, the Commission heard from members of the Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission (HP&DRC) about ways of improving communication between the two Commissions. Planning Commission chair Brian Precourt said they welcomed the input from the HP & DRDC and would more actively seek their recommendations in the future. He encouraged them to feel free to raise specific issues that they think the Planning Commission should address and recommend solutions.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 pm in the Municipal Center.

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