OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION SPECIAL MEETING
December 30, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:32 p.m. Planning Commission members present were Sirean LaFlamme, Bill Pusey, and Stephan Chait. Brian McNeice and Meggie Stoltzman were absent. Keith Stone, Craig Stone, Kaitlin Stone, Michael Fournier, Earl Kurtz, Tina Kurtz, Paula Schultz, Doug Grob, Marilyn Allen, Jesse Ferland, Rick Gay, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and/or Additions to the Agenda
There were no alterations to the agenda.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Stephan Chait made a motion to approve the 10/14/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Bill Pusey seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Virginia Stone Subdivision Approval Request
Commission members reviewed the Stone permit application and map. Sirean LaFlamme asked for comments or questions; there were none. Pusey made a motion to approve the Stone subdivision permit request as is. LaFlamme seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Lauren Kurtz Subdivision Approval Request
During the review of the Kurtz subdivision request, Doug Grob, whose property abuts the Kurtz property, took the floor to explain a state regulation called overshadowing, which places usage restrictions on adjacent land when a dwelling and water supply is within a certain distance of a property line. Grob said he was surprised by the state notification he received several years prior, when the Kurtz house was built, and it had taken him awhile to understand its import. He has no plans to make changes to the affected portion of his land, but wanted to make others aware of this state law, and also wondered whether there would be additional subdivisions to the main Kurtz property in the future. Earl Kurtz, who had not known of this state law either, said they had chosen that spot to build simply because of the beauty of the location and nearby waterfall. There are no plans to further divide the main property, which is in his mother’s name and will eventually belong to him and his siblings. Craig Stone has had some experience with the state’s overshadowing law. He advised communicating with state legislators, as promises had been made to revisit and possibly revise the ruling. This has not yet happened, although the law has been in place four to six years. There are cases, Stone said, where landowners have used the overshadowing law to spite their neighbors, which was not the original intention of the legislation. Grob confirmed for Stephan Chait that the state’s mandate had no effect on his existing well. Bill Pusey made a motion to approve the Kurtz subdivision request as is. Chait seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. LaFlamme apologized to the applicants for the length of time it had taken to reach the hearing stage on their requests, and said Notices of Decision would be completed within 30 days.
Hearing of Visitors
Pusey told the Commission about a logging operation on Hatch School Road on property adjacent to the recent Copeland subdivision. He said logs were being transported by Cersosimo trucks, and neighbors had noticed a skid road on the property leading to what appear to be four or five clearings which might be potential house sites. No one had further information on this activity, and the Planning Commission has not received any permit requests.
LaFlamme asked about the next Act 250 hearing date, which is scheduled for January 23rd. The next regular Planning Commission meeting will be January 13th. Rick Gay said he would prepare revisions for the basic town application forms to bring them in line with changes made to the town plan and zoning regulations. Originally, said LaFlamme, the zoning rewrite was to have been complete in time for a 2015 town meeting vote, but the years’s events have occasioned delays which will prevent that.
LaFlamme addressed several points made in a recent letter the Commission had received from Debra Foster. In response to Foster’s comment that she believed the Commission was open to having two meetings a month, LaFlamme noted the second meeting held in December was a special meeting made necessary by weather conditions earlier in the month, but this is not a regular occurrence. Foster envisioned two monthly meetings as a way to address both the Act 250 permit and the zoning rewrite. LaFlamme explained that while Planning Commission members are free to attend the Environmental Commission’s hearings on the Act 250 permit, the Planning Commission does not have a say in when those hearings are held. LaFlamme also advised it would be illegal for the Planning Commission to accept monetary donations from the community to cover additional costs, as suggested in Foster’s letter.
Chait made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Pusey seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The meeting was adjourned at 8:07 p.m.
Planning Commission Secretary, pro tem