OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING
November 10, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. Planning Commission members Sirean LaFlamme, Stephan Chait, and Linda Lyon were present; Bill Pusey and Brian McNeice were unable to attend. Nicholas Bartenhagen, Margaret Bartenhagen, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Marilyn Allen, Sue Kelly, David Brown, John LaFlamme, Teri Patterson, and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and/or Additions to the Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Stephan Chait made a motion to approve the 10/27/15 special meeting minutes as written. Sirean LaFlamme seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Linda Lyon abstaining.
Preliminary Project Discussion—Teri Patterson
The Planning Commission had received an email from Teri Patterson, who is investigating the possibility of purchasing property in Halifax and starting a business. Patterson described her idea of creating a small-scale, all-season resort consisting of no more than ten cabins with a small footprint of 400-800 square feet. The cabins would accommodate guests for daily or weekly stays. Patterson is particularly interested in utilizing local vendors to supply her business needs, and emphasized that the resort will have a green focus with an end-goal of full self-sustaining alternative energy systems for water, electricity, and wastewater management.
After reading the email into the record, LaFlamme recused herself and turned the meeting over to Chait, as the property Patterson is considering is the LaFlamme thirty-acre parcel at 1355 Whitneyville Road. Patterson then introduced herself, and distributed printed packets outlining her business plan. She is from Orlando, Florida, currently lives in Connecticut, and has spent twenty years in the banking industry. Her experience in that field has led her to recognize a need for executives functioning in a high-technology environment to be able to rejuvenate in a low-tech setting. Patterson is exploring solar as a power source and has contracted with an alternative systems engineer to develop a viable design.
Would these cabins have cooking facilities, and what type of heating would they have?, asked Chait. Patterson said there would be small, propane- or solar-powered kitchens. The heat source would be wood or propane, and the engineer is exploring the possibility of radiant floor heating. Linda Lyon, who has experience building an energy-efficient house, offered to share her knowledge should the project come to pass. The property is in the Conservation district; bed and breakfasts are permissible as a conditional use under current zoning bylaw. Chait asked how parking would be managed. Patterson said her goal was to keep the property as pristine as possible. Parking would be at the existing building or before the woodline, not at the individual cabins; golf-cart type vehicles might be used to move around the property.
John LaFlamme mentioned Halifax has one existing business with guest cabins—Abbott’s Glen. David Brown asked how Patterson had settled on this property. Patterson replied she had been looking at land parcels, but when she found the Whitneyville property she saw the usefulness of having one structure already in place. There is a quietness and serenity here that corporate America needs, she said. I think your project sounds like a very reasonable and exciting this to do, said Maggie Bartenhagen.
Zoning Regulations Revisions
LaFlamme rejoined the Board as they turned to considering the final details of zoning regulation revision. Based on their review of John Bennett’s responses to questions posed at the previous meeting, they chose to include only the zoning map in the revised regulations, no changes to flood hazard regulations will be made this pass, and no new materials will be added regarding shorelands and surface waters. A definition for “farm structure” will be added to the General Definitions section. Section 305, Boundary Line Adjustments and Section 505, Ponds, will be expanded to include more detailed explanation of the regulations. Commissioners once again discussed the Noise regulation wording and, after agreeing the town of Stratton’s regulation is too complex for Halifax needs, decided to stay with their last revision.
The Commission declared their rewrote work complete and discussion turned to hearing scheduling. John Bennett has offered to work with Gabriel in writing the report which must accompany the hearing notice. Once that is done a date will be set for the Planning Commission hearing and public notice will be posted online, in the newspaper, and on town bulletin boards. Also at that time, an electronic version of the revised regulations, with all changes and additions marked, will be posted online and will be made available on CD to interested citizens. Gabriel will also research setting an alternate hearing date in case of inclement weather, as both the Planning Commission and Selectboard hearings on the issue will be held during mid-winter months. Lyon also recommended writing a letter of thanks to John Bennett for his extensive contributions to the regulation revision effort.
The next regular meeting will be held Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 and will be a joint Zoning Board/Planning Commission meeting, to give the ZBA opportunity to review and approve the accumulation of last summer’s hearing minutes.
Hearing of Visitors
LaFlamme made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:48 p.m. Lyon seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Interim Planning Commission Secretary