OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES
March 15, 2018
(Note: This meeting, originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 2018, was moved to Thursday, March 15th, due to winter storm conditions.)
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Patricia Dow, and Alice Aldrich were present; Bill Pusey and Kaitlin Stone were unable to attend. John Bennett (WRC), Stephan Chait, and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
John Bennett advised he had some municipal consultation materials to discuss if sufficient time remained after the evening’s planned work.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Alice Aldrich made a motion to approve the 2/13/18 regular meeting minutes as written. Patty Dow seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Town Plan Update—John Bennett
Having previously developed a schedule for working through the Town Plan in sections over the coming months, the Planning Commission began a review of Block 1, which covers the introduction and community profile chapters. Bennett passed around several handouts, including an updated annotated table of contents, WRC’s 2014 town profile, and land use maps with accompanying text from adjacent towns. He noted that Marlboro, Wilmington, and Whitingham are in the process of updating their plans, and are expected to adopt revised plans before Halifax completes their update.
The community profile chapter of the current Halifax Town Plan uses data drawn from the 2010 census. Turner Lewis provided updated figures for the overall town population and number of school students. Stephan Chait had comments on the health and emergency services section, which will be addressed in a future meeting. Commissioners then reviewed the Block 1 text paragraph by paragraph, while Bennett made notes of numerous small text changes necessary to bring content in line with present-day information. In past years, WRC’s town plan review panel has recommended that Halifax expand its section describing compatibility to adjacent town plans by adding specific detail about each town. The Board will study examples from other town plans and return with suggestions for re-writing the Halifax compatibility subsection. Commissioners will also do some research to clarify several historical references found in the current Halifax text.
The final twenty minutes of the meeting were devoted to discussing the elements of WRC’s Municipal Consultation Report, which included municipal plan assessment, perceived training needs, and regional planning commission projects and local priorities. In the conversation on training, Chait suggested it would be useful to educate the public about new State requirements under the Municipal Roads General Permit. Recent Vermont State legislation is changing local highway department ditching and road maintenance practices, and Board members have heard questions and concerns regarding those changes.
In response to questions from Chait, Bennett also briefly described options for adopting subdivision regulations, and confirmed that when Commissioners addressed the land use section they would be considering Act 171 requirements related to conservation, forest blocks, and habitat connectors. Aldrich asked whether Act 250 oversight extended to private roads. Finally, the Board reviewed with Bennett the many ways Windham Regional Commission interacts with and provides assistance to the Town.
Hearing of Visitors
The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
Planning Commission Interim Secretary