Town of Halifax, Vermont
June 10, 2008
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:08 PM. Board members in attendance were Chair Christina Moore, Allan Dacey, Frank Maltese, Craig Stone, William Pusey, Norman Fajans, and Howard Alboum. Board Member Paul Placentino was absent. Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, and Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Review of Mail and Communications
Mrs. Moore advised that they had received no interesting mail. Regarding other communication, she noted that the members should have all received a copy of the note that had been sent to Mr. Mundell regarding the Brown subdivision (letter from Mrs. Moore explaining the process for approval of a subdivision). She explained that basically what happens is that when Mr. Mundell submits the request for a right of way approval, he will simultaneously request approval of the subdivision of land into four lots. This means there would only need to be one hearing, for two related approvals.
Mr. Dacey advised that he understood the need for the right-of-way approval by the board, but wanted to know why the subdivision, when it meets all of the zoning requirements, needs a public hearing. He advised they have never done this before.
It was noted that state statute as well as the town zoning regulations require that the planning commission hold a public hearing, and notify abutters of the project. Mrs. Moore read the definition of land development that is under the purview of the Planning Commission and it includes “the division of a parcel into two or more parcels”, so that the simple process of dividing a parcel of land in half, is development and comes under the jurisdiction of the Planning Commission unless it is requesting conditional uses or variances that would be heard by the ZBA.
The members questioned why, if it is the law, they had never done it before. It was noted that it was probably due to not being aware of the rules.
It was stated that they had never done it before, but Mr. Stone advised that they had done it in the past for a four-lot subdivision that included a new driveway access.
A short discussion followed with some members stating that it should not be required, that as long as the application meets the zoning and state regulations, there is no need for a hearing; the Zoning Administrator can approve it. Mr. Alboum, who had raised the issue of notice to abutters at the last meeting, advised that people should have an opportunity to be heard, and to know what is happening with a neighbor’s property.
Mr. Fajans noted that if the property is in compliance with the rules, there is no way that the application can be denied, making a public hearing unnecessary.
Mrs. Moore advised that their failing in the past has been not paying attention to what the law is. She put the citations in the letter, as the law is written. A short review of the rules followed and it was noted that the preceding discussion was for educational purposes, as they cannot change the rules at this time. Although they all have personal opinions of the way it should be, they should just comply with the law. If some of the members may want to enact a change, they can consider that in the future. At this point they should just comply with the rules as written.
Review of Rules of Procedure and Ethics Policy
Mrs. Moore advised they had committed to finishing this review tonight so that a final document could be presented for Board approval.
Mrs. Moore advised that there are two sets of Rules stated in the document. Rule I and Rule II. She advised that they should decide which set of rules they want to follow before they continue as this would impact the decisions they make on the remainder of the document. She explained the difference in the two sets. Rules I were designed for boards who hold less formal procedures, where the chair handles administrative issues for the board, and where the board deliberates in public. Rules II were designed for boards that hold more formal proceedings, utilize staff for administrative support, and use a private deliberative session to conduct their deliberations. She advised that whichever set of rules they adopt, they always have the option of changing in the future.
Mr. Dacey moved to adopt the Rules of Procedure I.
Mr. Maltese seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Mrs. Moore advised that her reason for wanting them to decide on a specific set of rules at this time, is that it allows hem to hopefully finish review at this meeting, without having to continually revisit which set of rules apply. Once it is finished a final document containing all of the changes will be presented for approval and adoption at a future meeting.
The members reviewed and discussed the remaining sections of the document and made the necessary revisions and changes.
The document review was completed and Mrs. Moore advised that the revised document would be ready within a few days and it will be placed on the agenda for approval in July.
A short discussion regarding the scheduling of the Brown subdivision public hearing followed. Mrs. Moore noted that they have not even received an application at this time. Once an application is submitted to the ZA, and forwarded to her as Chair, then a hearing can be scheduled. It was noted that it requires a minimum of three weeks in order to allow time to verify the abutter information, send out the notices and get the legal notice into the appropriate newspapers. These notices are required to be at least 15 days before the date of the hearing. If at all possible, the hearing will be on a regular meeting date for the board.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Dacey moved to approve the minutes of the May 13, 2008 meeting as written.
Mr. Alboum seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Mr. Fajans inquired about the status of membership on the Planning Commission.
It was announced that Paul Blais had submitted his resignation and it had been accepted by the Selectboard. The opening will be posted to allow any interested parties to request consideration.
Mr. Fajans asked why they didn’t just ask Brian McNeice to serve, as he is already on the ZBA.
It was noted that by posting the position it is more open and above board.
Mrs. Moore moved to send a letter in appreciation of his service on the board and to wish him success in his tenure with the school board.
Mr. Maltese seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk