OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES
October 9, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Bill Pusey, and Jason Ashcroft were present; Kaitlin Stone and Alice Aldrich were unable to attend. Also present were John Bennett (WRC), Stephan Chait, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Due to several absences, Turner Lewis advised minutes approval would be postponed to a future meeting.
Town Plan Update–John Bennett
Bennett and the Board addressed several questions which remained open following their special meeting of October 26th. At that meeting Commissioners had considered whether to include mention of Abbott’s Glen as a tourist-oriented commercial venture in the Economic Development section. Gabriel spoke with Linwood Abbott, who indicated he would like to be listed as Abbott’s Glen Naturist Resort. In discussion, Bill Pusey and Stephan Chait wondered whether the specific reference constituted marketing a business. Shearer Hill Bed and Breakfast is not listed, Honora Winery is included in the existing Plan text, and Stone’s Sawmill isn’t listed, though it gets mentioned elsewhere, under Forests. Bennett suggested either eliminating the references, or creating a more comprehensive list. It was also noted that Halifax now has a large number of Airbnb vacation rentals. Lewis recommended simply dropping all specific business references. Bennett read the pertinent State statute, which requires description of economic conditions generally, but not the mention of individual enterprises. Commissioners decided to delete the references.
The Board also considered some private mortgage calculations material submitted by Alice Aldrich as a possible addition to the Affordable Housing section, but concluded the information contained more specific detail than was needed. Bennett said a WRC staff member is still working on updating some of the figures in the Affordable Housing text; Bennett provided handouts with some of the revised numbers. Under Education Recommendations, a question remains open regarding ownership and financial responsibility for the Halifax School building. Chait suggested clarifying that ownership, and Ashcroft will speak with Sandra Pentak to clarify the issue.
Review Energy Plan Information
The Commission briefly discussed an email from WRC’s Marion Major, who will be assisting in creating an enhanced energy component for the Town Plan. Lewis commented that it appeared the project would require a great deal of work, and asked about the value of coordinating with other towns. Bennett said several towns, Vernon, Westminster, and Londonderry among them, have adopted Act 174 compliant energy elements, and templates were available for the project. WRC provides data and maps, and the individual municipal planning commissions then customize the template for their particular town, including the designation of local constraints on such things as wind and solar energy resources. Major will be working simultaneously with Halifax, Newfane, Putney, and Townsend. There will be a kick-off meeting with all the towns, three town-specific meetings, and then a shared follow-up meeting. Final draft deadline is July 1, 2019. Bennett told Ashcroft that drafts from other towns are available for review. Lewis advocated for a fairly simple, concise plan; Bennett said the template contained quite a bit of detail, and while the Town is not required to adopt it all, the State does provide a checklist of elements necessary to become Act 174 compliant. Chait asked whether the energy plan could be presented as a separate document, with reference to it included in the main body of the Town Plan. Bennett said Londonderry has adopted their energy plan as an appendix. Lewis liked that idea, and suggested that others in the community, aside from Planning Commission members, might be involved in the development process. Bennett advised that an energy committee which included members other than Planning Commissioners was desirable. Perhaps, said Lewis, we could advertise for volunteers on the Town web site. The Board decided to postpone appointing a point person for the project until all Commissioners were present.
Lewis read a letter he proposed to send to William and Christopher Petrie from the Board encouraging them to investigate why their amended wastewater application was not posted on the State web site.
Hearing of Visitors
Pusey made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Ashcroft seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The meeting was adjourned at 8:11 p.m.
Planning Commission Interim Secretary