OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING
January 13, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:09 p.m. Planning Commission members Sirean LaFlamme, Stephan Chait, Brian McNeice, and Meggie Stoltzman were in attendance, as were Margo Avakian, Edee Edwards, Marilyn Allen, Jesse Ferland, Sue Kelly, Rick Gay, Janet Taylor, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to the Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Stephan Chait made a motion to approve the 12/30/14 special meeting minutes with one correction. Sirean LaFlamme seconded the motion, which passed, 4-0.
Update of Zoning Regulations with John Bennett
This session’s review work began with Article 7 Definitions, on page 40 of the current zoning regulations. John Bennett noted the need to include telecommunications terms and outlined legislative changes to flood hazard regulations which should be incorporated into the language of the town’s flood regulation definitions. Flood hazard definitions are listed in a separate section of the zoning regulations and Bennett recommended maintaining that separation for clarity. Rick Gay asked about maps. Bennett said the state has released a set of maps for all Vermont towns which he described for Margo Avakian as computer-generated models estimating fluvial erosion hazard areas. These maps can be revised case-by-case, as could be done in Guilford’s Green River assessment project.
Edee Edwards noted that forest products were listed under the agricultural use definition, and asked whether that wording should be removed, as there was a separate entry for forestry. In discussion it was decided this reference might cover forest-related enterprises which did not involve the felling of timber. Christmas tree farms, the harvesting of mushrooms, or branches and ground pine for wreaths were mentioned.
The campground definition was discussed. Bennett will do some additional research before additions or alterations are made.
Gay would like to see language defining temporary hoop house garages or carports, as they are becoming popular. A decision was made to add specifics under “Structures.”
The definition of “Interested Person” will be updated to conform to the most recent revision in state statutes.
Bennett recommended adding a definition of earth and mineral extraction. The draft wording will be based on the first sentence found under Section 501-Earth/Mineral Extraction, on page 20 of the current regulations, with an as-yet-undetermined modification to cover minerals.
Brian McNeice suggested adding a definition of boundary line adjustments; Bennett said he would could provide good examples written by other towns for this purpose.
If the term “farm structures” were included in the definitions section, Bennett advised referring readers to the very thorough state statutes covering that topic.
Edwards noted the use of “lodge” on page 19 of the town’s zoning regulations and suggested that word should be included with the definition of inn for consistency.
A definition for light industry will be added, based on the wording of Section 503-Light Industry, on page 22.
After reviewing indoor and outdoor recreation definitions the Commission decided to revisit the wording of conditional uses (Section 302-Village, page 9) in a future session.
The words “includes earth and mineral extraction” were removed from the definition of resource industry, as was the phrase “excluding those activities identified in the definition of Agricultural Use.” Resource industry was also deleted as a conditional use under Section 308-Conservation District (page 11).
Gay introduced proposed modifications to the town’s zoning forms and requested correct language be included referencing Act 89, which relates to reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Commission will begin review of flood hazard area regulations at their next meeting. Bennett will bring with him a revised state model appropriate for Halifax. In the next couple of meetings, said Bennett, we should have a workable first draft of the amended regulations. He recommended a public discussion before the formal public hearing, perhaps more in the form of a roundtable discussion than a standard Planning Commission meeting. While the present grant expires on May 15th, he assured the meeting the Regional Planning Commission would still be available for advice and assistance. Bennett will also present a draft of potential subdivision regulations as required by the grant contract. In response to a question from Edwards, he said it would be possible, though cumbersome, to vote individually on specific controversial items. McNeice asked whether the Planning Commission should meet more than once a month, and Bennett advised revisiting the question at the February meeting after an assessment of work still to be done. LaFlamme reminded everyone that a quorum of Planning Commission members was required at any meeting—not always an easy goal to achieve.
Hearing of Visitors
Chait made a motion to adjourn the meeting. McNeice seconded the motion, which passed, 4-0. The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
Planning Commission Secretary, pro tem