OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES
September 11, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Bill Pusey, Alice Aldrich, and Kaitlin Stone were present; Jason Ashcroft was unable to attend. Also present were John Bennett (WRC), Lisa Stagner, Heather Nelson, Stephan Chait, Greg Marguet, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Turner Lewis thanked Bill Pusey for chairing the August meeting, and noted that meeting minutes for May and June had been approved during the July regular meeting.
Alice Aldrich made a motion to approve the 7/10/18 regular meeting minutes as written. Turner Lewis seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0-1, with Kaitlin Stone abstaining.
Alice Aldrich made a motion to approve the 8/14/18 regular meeting minutes as written. Kaitlin Stone seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0-1, with Turner Lewis abstaining.
Preliminary Review of New Parcel Application
Lewis chose to address this agenda item first, as property owners Lisa Stagner and Heather Nelson were present to answer any questions. The application requests subdivision of a 39.2-acre parcel at 587 Thomas Hill Road, in the Rural Residential district, into two parcels of 3 acres and 36.2 acres each. Commissioners reviewed application documents, and discussed State permit requirements and the notification and approval process in general. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the request on October 9, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Office.
Town Plan Update with John Bennett
John Bennett has provided Commissioners with a first draft of the Town Plan update, and after conversing about the timeline for project completion the Board read through the draft page-by-page and discussed proposed edits to the Plan. Bennett also shared informational handouts on State planning goals and requirements regarding flood resilience and forest block connectivity; Commissioners added new text addressing both these topics to the revised Plan. During the flood resilience discussion, Greg Marguet, who lives on Branch Road, asked whether new flood area designations would require homeowners to carry flood insurance. No, responded John Bennett. He explained that floodplain areas are defined and mapped by FEMA; Halifax has one such area on the North River. Recently, ANR (Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources) has been identifying and mapping river corridor along waterways such as the Green River, where there is the potential for fluvial erosion rather than inundation. There is no requirement to have flood insurance in the river corridors, unless that area is also FEMA-designated floodplain. Does it limit development potential?, asked Marguet. It may, when you regulate it in your zoning, answered Bennett. ANR would like to see municipal zoning regulations that prohibit new construction in river corridors. They have made some allowances for small structures and additions that are no closer to the river, and are on the downstream side of existing structures. It is a very complicated discussion, but the longterm intent is to try to minimize new construction in fluvial erosion hazard areas. What about the village, that’s pretty low, said Marguet. Bennett agreed, saying the village was in the river corridor, but not the mapped floodplain. ANR mapped estimated, or modeled, river corridors. If you think they are in error you can request them to come out and evaluate on a case-by-case basis. Also, if you have actual scientific data that can be used to inform the ANR river corridor models, that can be used to refine river corridors.
The Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, September 26, 2018, at 6:30 p.m., to put finishing touches on the revised Town Plan draft prior to distribution for public review. Commissioners will then schedule a public hearing to hear comments and questions on the updated document.
Hearing of Visitors
Turner Lewis made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Bill Pusey seconded the motion, which passed, 4-0. The meeting was adjourned at 8:54 p.m.
Planning Commission Interim Secretary