Planning Commission considers zoning changes

By Carol Casey

At its meeting on Sept. 26, the Planning Commission considered new and previously-discussed zoning issues. In the public comment portion of the meeting, George Mills and his wife requested a change in the zoning regulation that now limits development to just 5 percent of the lot for undeveloped property in certain areas such as Shelburne Heights (rather than 20-percent lot coverage on previously developed property). The Mills own an undeveloped lot on Collamer Circle and is currently limited to building structures – including a home, garage and driveway – totaling just 1,500 square feet under the existing regulation. The Commission agreed to look into the ramifications of changing the regulation at a subsequent meeting.

The Commission also discussed a zoning change requested by Jared Hayes of Toughpups at its last meeting for eliminating the requirement for kennels and pet care facilities to be located on lots of no less than three acres. As Hayes noted at the last meeting, Toughpups has identified a vacant building on Shelburne Road that would be ideal for opening a Shelburne pet care facility, but the lot is less than 3 acres. Hayes again described their business operation, noting that 3 acres is unnecessary and that adequate steps are taken to control any possible noise or odor generated by the business. The Commission asked Dean Pierce to draft proposed language for amending the current zoning regulation for their consideration at their next meeting.

The Commission also agreed to consider possible changes in stormwater remediation regulations during their consideration of instituting a form-based code for Shelburne Road north of the village. This decision was prompted by a presentation at their last meeting about stormwater runoff problems along Shelburne Road between Martindale and Harbor View Roads.

In another follow-up to a previous meeting, the Commission agreed to contact Gary Toth who gave an “interesting and provocative” presentation to the Planning Commission on July 11 on “A Citizen’s Guide to Better Streets,” a publication of Project for Public Spaces, asking him to  make a similar presentation either to the Selectboard or at an open public forum. The Commission thought such a presentation would be particularly timely, given discussions currently underway about changes in the U.S. Route 7/Falls Road/Harbor Road intersection and a possible connector road between the Shelburne Shopping Park and Harrington Village.

Later in the meeting, Town Planner Dean Pierce made a presentation on elements in the Land Use Scenario project for possible development of the area of the village east of Falls Road extending north to Harrington Village. Commission member Kate Lalley stated that townspeople first need to be asked what they want to see in this area before specific scenarios designed around a connector road are developed. The vision should precede a discussion of infrastructure, she and others in attendance suggested. Fritz Horton, chair of the Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission (HP&DRC), recommended that a working session with the two largest land holders in this area, Tony Pomerleau and Brian Precourt, be held first to find out what their long-range plans are. Commissioner Dick Elkins supports this idea, stating that the developers should present their projects rather than have the town plan the development. Dorothea Penar, an HP&DRC member, strongly urged that any development must preserve the character of the town and have no negative impact on its historic value. Pierce noted that more public meetings will be held on this issue, although no dates have been set yet.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Oct. 10 at 7 pm in the Town Center.

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