OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
February 13, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Bill Pusey, Kaitlin Stone, Patty Dow, and Alice Aldrich were present, as were John Bennett (WRC), Stephan Chait, Valerie Ashcroft, Jason Ashcroft, Kathleen Ashcroft, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Bill Pusey made a motion to approve the 1/9/18 meeting minutes as written. Kaitlin Stone seconded the motion, which passed, 5-0.
Town Plan Update with John Bennett
John Bennett worked with the Commissioners during this session to create a Town Plan review schedule which would result in a completed draft by September 2018. Bennett handed out copies of an annotated table of contents containing notes on those areas of the Plan which need to be addressed. In response to a question from Lewis, Bennett said Windham Regional Commission would provide a new map denoting river corridors, including small streams with 50-foot buffers. Stephan Chait asked whether it would be useful for the map to show watershed boundaries. It can be done, said Bennett; he will discuss it with GIS Manager Jeff Nugent. Chait also spoke about mapping of forest blocks and habitat connectivity.
The Board worked through the items in the table of contents, with Bennett providing commentary and advice regarding elements requiring update. They then sectioned the list into units, and plan to focus on one unit per meeting over the next six months. If the Commission is able to adhere to this schedule, they will be able to conduct a final overall review of the draft in late summer 2018, with sufficient time remaining for the required Planning Commission and Selectboard hearings in advance of a March, 2019, Town Meeting vote.
Chait asked whether there was a good correlation between the work schedule just created and funding budgeted for the project. I think so, replied Bennett. If we run out of funding, WRC almost invariably puts in more time than we bill for. And I can come to a short meeting, he added.
Utilizing a flood resilience plan template he had distributed at a previous meeting, Bennett highlighted specific wording, including policies and strategies, required by new State legislation. Alice Aldrich posed a question about streambank erosion and removing downed trees and debris from riverbeds. Bennett explained that under natural conditions a river or stream would contain large amounts of debris, which is beneficial to fish habitat and can decrease bank erosion. However, debris build-up also increases the potential for damage to properties within a river corridor. Does the Town Plan need to address situations of continuing erosion such as that on the Green River near Deer Park bridge?, asked Chait. Bennett said the problem was certainly worth discussion in the plan, but pointed out there is no easy solution. Chait suggested the Town might consider alternative road paths, rather than bank stabilization. Valerie Ashcroft agreed the subject should be considered, given the importance of our local roads. Bennett advised that information available in WRC’s North River and Green River geomorphic studies would be useful to an erosion discussion, and the topic could also be included in the next Hazard Mitigation Plan update.
Hearing of Visitors
Kaitlin Stone made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:15 p.m. Alice Aldrich seconded the motion, which passed, 5-0.
Interim Planning Commission Secretary