OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING
July 14, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:09 p.m. Planning Commission members Sirean LaFlamme, Brian McNeice, Bill Pusey, Stephan Chait, and Linda Lyon were present, as were Debra Foster, Mary Horne, Carl Barmen, Judi Kotanchik, Robbin Gabriel, and several individuals who arrived early for the 7:00 ZBA hearing, but did not sign the Planning Commission attendance sheet.
Changes and/or Additions to the Agenda
Bylaw Amendment Discussion
Stephan Chait, who had chaired the May 12, 2015 public hearing on the bylaw amendments in Sirean LaFlamme’s absence, explained that during the May 12th hearing the Planning Commission had heard testimony on two proposed changes in zoning regulation definitions. The addition of a new definition for Earth and Mineral Extraction was unopposed, but during the course of the hearing it became apparent that a phrase in the revised Resource Industry definition—“sourced on the parcel”—could have the effect of preventing businesses such as Craig Stone’s sawmill from obtaining needed materials. The wording of the Resource Industry definition is therefore to be reconsidered at this night’s meeting.
LaFlamme advised that once the wording modification was agreed upon the Planning Commission would either schedule another public hearing or pass the proposed amendments to the Selectboard for a public hearing. LaFlamme ask the Commissioners for suggestions on altering the Resource Industry definition. Linda Lyon recommended deleting the words “sourced on the parcel,” with the understanding that future permitting requests would be subject to the conditional use process and the town’s zoning regulation standards would be applied during consideration of permit applications. No objections were voiced. Brian McNeice made a motion to delete the phrase “sourced on the parcel” from the revised Resource Industry definition. Chait seconded the motion, which passed, 5-0. The modified definition in its entirety reads follows:
Proposed amended definition
Resource Industry–An activity involved in the primary processing of agricultural and forestry products, excluding earth and mineral extraction. Examples of resource industries are saw mills; firewood processing; and production of pellets, shavings, and compost.
In discussion, Carl Barmen spoke of a former wood processing operation that had resulted in large quantities of logs being trucked in from other locations. He didn’t ask, said Barmen, referring to the business owner. The Commissioners explained such projects required a conditional use permit approval. Barmen also noted that the existing Resource Industry definition was probably designed to assure sand or gravel deposits located anywhere in the town could be accessed for town use. Judi Kotanchik asked what effect the proposed definition changes would have on the pending Denison quarry conditional use application. That application will be considered under the currently existing zoning regulations, said Chait, not under the revised regulations which have not yet been approved. The existing Resource Industry definition contains the phrase “Includes earth and mineral extraction.”
The Planning Commission agreed to pass the modified bylaw amendments on to the Selectboard.
Hearing of Visitors
McNeice asked what should be done about finishing work on the full text of revised zoning regulations. Lyon suggested scheduling a meeting devoted to that purpose, including consideration of the subdivision regulation examples provided by John Bennett, and further discussion on permitted decibel levels. LaFlamme said the Commission should review the record of the previous Francis Brown permit application, as noise factors were addressed at length during that process. McNeice suggested the Planning Commission meet at 6:00 on July 28th, prior to the next ZBA hearing. Lyon will not be available on that date, but a quorum of the Board will be present.
LaFlamme announced John Brimmer’s resignation from the Zoning Board of Adjustment and read Brimmer’s letter into the record. Lyon, as alternate member approved by the Selectboard, will now serve as ZBA alternate for the Denison conditional use permitting process.
Debra Foster had concerns about the possibility of the Zoning Board concluding their public hearing and going into deliberative session in the absence of all Board members; she also asked whether Lyon, as alternate member, would have a vote. The Commission explained the requirement of a quorum, or majority, of members. LaFlamme advised this would be verified by the Town Attorney, adding that she could not predict the timing of a deliberative session until all testimony had been heard.
Pusey made a motion to adjourn the meeting. McNeice seconded the motion, which passed, 5-0. The meeting closed at 6:45 p.m.
Interim Planning Commission Secretary