by Margo Callaghan
Meeting May 8
The evening’s agenda was a brief one leading up to the Selectboard Retreat portion of the meeting. The first hour was spent on new business: specifically an update from Committee Chair Rob Donahue on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Path’s efforts. Donahue outlined seven priorities that would take the Committee through 2014 in terms of projects. The first priorities were for the bonded projects involving the paths on Webster Road and Harbor Road. The focus on the Webster Road path will be the extension of the sidewalk from Boulder Hill to Spear Street as well as a transition of the new path to the Route 7 sidewalk. The additional bonded project is the Harbor Road project that will look at incorporating recommendations of the MPO study, and introduction of a fourth crosswalk at the intersection of Route 7.
Other projects that will take priority in the coming years are the establishing of bike lanes in the Village, and along Falls Road and Irish Hill Road, as well as sidewalks and determining best solution for the Falls Road bridge design to accommodate safer passage.
Much time and effort has been put forth into the LaPlatte Loop Primitive Path project which includes routes from Falls Road to Shelburne Shopping Park, also including the overlook project at Shelburne Falls, routes through the Harrington Village project and a path project to connect the east side of the LaPlatte River to the Gardenside area off Webster Road.
The annual Selectboard retreat which gives members and the public an opportunity for less formal discussion time of major town issues was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 5 but was rescheduled to be rolled into the regularly scheduled meeting. The items decided on for discussion were: Form Based Code zoning, Capital Plan priorities, and Shelburne’s economic and fiscal goals. The latter discussion would be rescheduled to the next regular meeting.
The first discussion was an overview of Form Based Code (FBC) zoning, which the Planning Commission is investigating as an option to the more traditional zoning practices currently in place. Town Manager Paul Bohne posed the question of how best to educate not only members of the Board, but also the public in order to make an informed decision. He stated that he had discussed with Town Planner Dean Pierce the possibility of bringing in a consultant/architect, to offer what a zoning project would look like under the existing regulations and side by side under FBC criteria.
Overall, FBC focuses on physical form of buildings, taking into account a building’s scale and materials, as opposed to the end use of the property. Tucker Holland was in the audience, as were a number of Planning Commissioners, and he offered that traditional vs. FBC zoning was the difference between a posture of defense and offense, stating “FBC is offense.” Board member Gary von Stange questioned whether the adoption of FBC would apply just to the Town’s Mixed Use District and/or the Route 7 corridor. Brian Precourt of the Planning Commission reminded the Board that the codes hadn’t been written yet, and when the time came, “we have to set parameters…we need realistic options [from consultants]. There are market factors along Route 7 that have to be considered.” The sense was that there was much greater flexibility in the FBC process and that it might yield a quicker process for businesses looking to open in Shelburne. The opposing view was that FBC would dictate how buildings would need to look and what materials would have to be used. According to von Stange it would be a huge step, adopting FBC, but that “I think we have to help economic development [in Shelburne] and if FBC can help, then great.” Chair Bill Smith urged that the discussions to follow need to be public and accessible to all residents to participate in.
Prioritizing major projects
The Board reviewed a list of major Capital Plan projects and was instructed by Smith to prioritize the projects. The list was broken into three major categories: Existing Facilities/Infrastructure, New Facilities /Infrastructure, and Vehicles/Equipment. Spearheaded by Al Gobeille was the addition of enhancing safety along the Shelburne Hinesburg Road as the major route used by young drivers to CVU (“Safe Roads to School”).
The replacement of the Bay Road Bridge over the LaPlatte River ($1.5 million) was rated a top three priority by the Board, as was the building of a new Fire/Rescue Station ($2.5 million). The “Safe Roads to School” initiative was also ranked as a priority project, and will necessitate a joint meeting with Hinesburg Selectboard. Initial suggestions for safety improvements included the posting of a lower speed limit on the road, more and better positioned guard rails, higher fill of roadside culverts, and the need for speed limit enforcement by police.
by Margo Callaghan