Planning Commission asked to consider zoning changes

By Carol Casey

In the public comment portion of the Oct.10 Planning Commission meeting, Dave Marshall of Civil Engineering Associates asked the Commission to consider two new zoning changes. The first one he proposed was to establish a mixed use district in the Route 7/Longmeadow Drive area. He noted Hanson Piano on Longmeadow Drive is to be sold and the property was grandfathered for commercial use. He suggested that, because this property is close to Route 7 and the Munroe Brook forms a natural boundary for the residential area, the intervening area should be zoned for mixed use to serve as a buffer between the commercial and residential areas. Commission Chair Brian Precourt said he would put this issue on a future agenda. Town Planner Dean Pierce cautioned that such a change would require amendments to the zoning map and Town Plan.

Marshall’s second suggestion concerned amending the setback requirements for Planned Unit Developments. He recommended setting the requirement as a lot-size percentage rather than the current 30 feet. Marshall cited the Fisher property on Falls Road, where it would be virtually impossible to erect any new buildings under the setback requirements. Such a change, Marshall argued, would result in more creative building design and protect historic structures. The Commission agreed to consider this issue at a subsequent meeting.

The Commission then discussed modifying the language and lot size requirements for Pet Day Care facilities. Pierce had provided Commissioners with draft language, including specific standards adopted by South Burlington. Commission member Ann Hogan suggested mimicking certain South Burlington regulations, such as defining “animals” to include “dogs, cats, or other small domestic animals.” Pierce was asked to incorporate these recommendations into final proposed language for consideration.

Another change concerned the dimensional requirements in the Shelburne Heights and Harborwood Shores neighborhoods. Currently, new structures on undeveloped properties in these neighborhoods cannot cover more than five percent of the lot. Precourt and Bouchard labeled this restriction as “arbitrary” and “onerous.” Precourt suggested taking the Shelburne Heights area out of the Neighborhood Overlay District so properties in the area would be subject to the 20-percent requirement for other single and two-family dwellings in residential districts. Pierce will draft specific language for consideration at the Commission’s next meeting.

Commission members were then asked to list no more than three individual priorities for the 2014 work plan, which members divulged during the meeting. The plan will be revised and priorities will be set at a subsequent meeting.

Precourt recommended that the Commission do a “running edit” of the Town Plan based on feedback obtained from the Selectboard as the plan continues to be reviewed. The major issues to be addressed seem to be the growth rate (both generally and in the Village) as well as the official map. Commissioners agreed to the running edit proposal. Precourt also announced he will be attending the Development Review Board meeting on Nov. 6 to hear their ideas on zoning regulation changes. He encouraged other Commissioners to join him at this meeting.

Pierce announced that no grants are available to bring Gary Toth (of the Project for Public Spaces) back to Shelburne to make a presentation on better streets. Pierce also updated the Commissioners on the status of the Village Planning Studies and the Form Based Zoning project.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 pm in the Town Center.

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