OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES
July 10, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:06 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Alice Aldrich, and Jason Ashcroft were present; Kaitlin Stone was unable to attend. Bill Pusey arrived at approximately 7:20 p.m. Also present were John Bennett (WRC), Stephan Chait, Janet Taylor, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Chairman Turner Lewis said approval of minutes would be postponed until the other Board members were present. John Bennett told the meeting he wanted to correct a statement he made at the June meeting. Bennett had advised the energy element in VSA 117 had recently been enhanced. He learned subsequently that while revision of the statute may have been contemplated in draft form, no official change was made. Bennett also said, referring to The Nature Conservancy, that “The” should be capitalized, as it is part of the organization’s official name.
Town Plan Update—John Bennett
Lewis thanked Jason Ashcroft for his written contribution updating the education section of the Town Plan. Bennett said he had conferred with Marion Major, WRC’s energy expert, and learned Major will be willing to assist in revising the Halifax Town Plan’s energy section to achieve Act 174 compliance. Bennett believes additional grant monies will be available for the endeavor; the Town can take advantage of this funding without submitting another application.
Bennett announced that the State will be presenting a workshop on or about August 2nd, in Londonderry, on the subject of water and waste-water supply issues in village areas. While Halifax does not have a municipal water system, Bennett suggested towns with low-lying village centers, such as ours, might be eligible for future grant dollars to explore development-related water management alternatives. Stephan Chait mentioned towns such as Newfane, where village development and business function are hampered by inadequate water and waste-water resources; Bennett said the State is attempting to respond to such needs.
Commissioners returned to reviewing Town Plan text, first updating town road mileage and discussing Route 112 traffic counts in the transportation section, then moving to the housing section. Bennett drew attention to Community Profile references in housing portion of the Plan; pinpointing some discrepancies in pie charts which need to be researched, and the Board also agreed on a few minor changes in wording. The Plan’s discussion of affordable housing is somewhat confusing; Bennett will research and provide current data for use in revising that material.
Bennett and Commissioners also made a preliminary examination of the Implementation and Response to State Planning Goals sections, and will conduct further review at upcoming meetings. The implementation plan will become more specific in its wording, and the several new elements will be added to the Vermont planning goals list. Chait asked whether the State goals included mention of forest block connectivity. Bennett said wording on that topic has been added to Goal 6. The Board also held a brief general discussion about the town maps. Commissioners are close to completing a first-pass update of the Plan text; Bennett will be creating a draft copy of proposed revisions for review soon.
Lewis noted that the Board could now vote to approve past meeting minutes, as Bill Pusey was present.
Board members approved the 5/8/18 meeting minutes as written by a 3-0-1 vote, with Alice Aldrich (who was absent on 5/8) abstaining. They also approved the 6/10/18 minutes (with one correction as noted earlier) by a 3-0-1 vote, and Jason Ashcroft abstaining.
Lewis reminded the meeting he would be out of the country in August, and would not attend the August 14th meeting. Bill Pusey will act as Chairman on that evening.
Hearing of Visitors
Stephan Chait, who attended Windham Regional Commission’s June presentation on open meeting law in Townshend, praised guest speaker Jim Barlow, Esq., for his thorough and clear explanation of the statutes. Alice Aldrich, who also attended the session, gave Board members informational handouts she had acquired at the meeting.
In response to Lewis’ question about next months’ assignment, Bennett said he would attempt to provide a first draft of the revised plan in advance of the next meeting. He made no promises, however, as he has some vacation time coming up. He told Chait the Commissioners have met their original schedule for the revision project and are in good shape.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:32 p.m.
Planning Commission Interim Secretary