Town of Halifax, Vermont
August 12, 2009
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:02 PM. Members in attendance were Chair Christina Moore, Norman Fajans, Brian McNeice, Craig Stone, Howard Alboum, and William Pusey. Board member Sirean LaFlamme and Secretary Phyllis Evanuk were absent. Others in attendance were Zoning Administrator Rick Gay and Margo Avakian.
Ø The first item on the agenda was clarification of an application submitted by Brian McNeice for a lot line adjustment between two lots both owned by him. It had been submitted to the Planning Commission for review but because no new lot was being created it was not necessary for the Planning Commission to act on it. Mr. McNeice withdrew his application and resubmitted a new application to the Zoning Administrator clarifying that it is a boundary adjustment rather than a subdivision.
Ø The second item was presented by Rick Gay. He advised that in lieu of the fact that under state statute planning commissions are charged with subdivision final plat review and approval, he felt that they should at least review this plan. He advised that this subdivision had been done in 2007 and the town had not reviewed it. Mr. Gay advised that he wanted to be sure that the project was properly recorded in the town records to avoid any problems in the future. The property in question belonged to June Butler who subdivided 155.6 acres with 800’ of frontage from the original parcel and deeded it to the Humane Society of the U.S. Wildlife Land Trust. This left a 4.4 acre parcel with 300’ of frontage and residential structures remaining in Ms. Butler’s ownership.
After hearing the presentation the Planning Commission agreed that this was a subdivision and a hearing should be held.
Mrs. Moore moved to hold a public hearing on the June Butler subdivision application filed on August 10, 2009, on September 9, 2009, and request that Phyllis Evanuk perform the necessary paperwork in preparation.
Mr. McNeice seconded the motion which carried, 6-0.
A discussion of whether or not to charge a late fee for this application followed. It was the general consensus that this was an oversight, not an attempt to ignore the procedure. Mr. Fajans noted that if Mr. Gay had not brought it to their attention they would never have known about it, so in the interest of fairness they should not impose the penalty.
Mr. Fajans moved to waive the late fee for this application.
Mr. Stone seconded the motion which carried 6-0.
ØMrs. Moore moved to send a letter of appreciation for his years of service to Frank Maltese.
Mr. Pusey seconded the motion which carried 6-0.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Stone moved to approve the minutes from the July 8, 2009 meeting as written.
Mr. Alboum seconded the motion which carried 6-0.
Mr. Alboum moved to accept the minutes of the Public Hearing on July 15, 2009.
Mrs. Moore seconded the motion, which carried 5-0-1.
Mr. Alboum advised he wanted to talk about the procedure for the new town plan. He advised he had done some research and felt that all commissioners should have input regarding this before they open up the book and start. He had a chart showing some of the areas to be considered as far as the process goes.
Mr. Stone suggested they work toward having it ready for the primary or general election in November 2010. That gives us time to research the new figures needed for the plan. General consensus was that this date was a reasonable target.
Mr. Alboum advised that they should think about all of the steps in developing a new plan and agree on how to accomplish them.
Mr. Stone advised that he felt that they will never have a Town Plan that all of the Commissioners will agree on, that sometimes the townspeople help direct the plan.
Mr. Alboum advised he hopes that townspeople will come to the meetings and provide input. He is concerned that they should not just go ahead and develop the plan and just present it for a vote when it’s done.
Mr. McNeice advised that having public input before a public hearing is very useful. Having the schedule available for the public to encourage them to participate in areas they are concerned about would be a good idea. He also advised that a definite timetable is needed.
Mr. Alboum advised that they should consider the statement of their goals as the first thing to agree on, as this will impact the rest of the plan.
Mrs. Moore asked if they wanted to take a few minutes and structure the schedule for the next several months. She suggested that for the October meeting they could take the topic of a commercial district and discuss that.
Mr. Alboum questioned why they didn’t plan that for September. She advised that in September they could review all of the sections before Page 22 (which is about where they had gotten to when they were actively working on it before), and she felt that one of the things that the residents would be most interested in is the possible development of a commercial district.
Mrs. Moore advised that what they had amended or added to the list of goals was:
#16 – to encourage locally grown food; and #17 – to encourage local alternative energy development.
Mrs. Moore advised that one of the things she has been concerned about is the loss of the Halifax school and the loss of the West Halifax Post Office. She advised that some 10% of the Post Offices in the country are scheduled to be closed. No rural post offices were on that initial list, but that could change. She further advised that although no Town Plan can argue with the U.S. Government or the Postal Service, she thought that Goal #5 – to plan and support affordable system of public facilities and services; somewhere in here there’s a sense that they should be protecting community resources. One of her personal goals would be to have a community center, which would house a post office, school, a town clerk’s office, and the things that keep a town a town.
They reviewed the goals to see where this concept would best fit. #9 was suggested by Mrs. Moore, something like including local post office, schools, and town services.
Mr. McNeice suggested #2, which states ‘to maintain the town’s settlement patterns that are typified by a small village surrounded by rural Countryside as a means of containing sprawl;’ and he suggested that after small village they could insert what a village is – ‘which includes a school, post office, town services, local churches, historical society, and community center.’
Mrs. Moore advised that she had an opinion regarding land ownership in Halifax. She knows it is not a popular idea but she would like to encourage people who purchase land in Halifax to live in town and raise their families here. She feels that the current growth is really a growth in second homes instead of year-round residences.
It was noted that when the 2004 Plan was written the pressure was from the resort areas, but now the pressure has shifted. Mrs. Moore advised that the reason she suggested this was because you can’t plan development and growth around a seasonal population.
Mr. Stone suggested that if they are changing the concept in the Managing Growth section they should incorporate the fact that they are a bedroom town for areas more than 40 miles away, and include the metropolitan areas of the surrounding states.
Mr. Pusey advised that the whole state is “job poor” and the state isn’t doing anything about it. Until the high speed internet problem is worked out the situation will not change. He advised that another reason that businesses are not coming to Vermont is the permitting process which is a deterrent.
Mrs. Moore advised that Clarence Boston is investing in a large orchard in Halifax at the corner of Amidon Road and Stage Road. He’s putting in hundreds of Macintosh apple trees.
Mrs. Moore noted that instead of putting the emphasis on the expansion of Wilmington and Dover, the emphasis should be on the agricultural factors and businesses in Halifax. She further advised that if they can come to consensus on this topic, then they will have a basis upon which to build in the other areas.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk