OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
May 9, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Kaitlin Stone, Patty Dow, and Alice Aldrich were present. Bill Pusey was traveling out-of-state. William Ashcroft, Valerie Ashcroft, Jason Ashcroft, Jack Rossetti, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Kaitlin Stone made a motion to approve the 4/11/17 meeting minutes as written. Alice Aldrich seconded the motion, which passed, 4-0.
Bill Ashcroft introduced himself, his wife Valerie, and his son Jason. The Ashcrofts live at 153 Metcalf Road. They purchased the 54-acre property in 2013 and have built their home there. The Ashcroft parcel abuts Old Green River Road. Bill Ashcroft said he had some questions for the Commissioners regarding a situation that had developed recently. He explained that a mobile home on a 2+ acre property across Old Green River Road (194 Old Green River Road) had burned last year. He had been told that after the fire, the water and septic had been removed from the deed. (Note: Later in the meeting it was clarified that the water supply and septic values had been removed from the town’s assessment of the property, but not from the deed.) Recently family members of the owner has moved an RV (a 5th-wheel trailer), a shed, a Port-a-Potty and a generator onto the lot. Ashcroft said the RV has been connected to the septic, and the current residents are attempting to pipe water up from the spring house. He had been told by the previous residents that the septic system did not work, and questioned whether the septic system was functional now. Is the camper allowed to be on the property indefinitely, or is it temporary?, Ashcroft asked. If it is temporary, what is the time limit? What defines a temporary situation? He also had questions about what was permitted regarding reconstruction on a non-conforming (grandfathered) property, and asked if permits had been issued. Across the road from the property, he continued, there is a burned-out car left from the November fire. We don’t know if the car is leaking gas or oil, and are concerned about potential environmental hazards. Turner Lewis asked about the exact location of the vehicle. It’s on the road, across from the RV, on another parcel we just bought, answered Ashcroft. Based on that description, Board members thought it likely the car was in the town right-of-way. Ashcroft said there was originally a delay removing the damaged vehicle because the title was lost in the fire. But it’s been six months, and the car is still there, with trash in and around it. A five-yard trash container has also been brought in and set on Ashcroft’s side of the road. Is there a town ordinance on abandoned cars, or anything that can be done to have the car removed?, he asked.
After a short general discussion of water/septic regulations, Turner Lewis recessed the meeting at 7:15, and announced it would reconvene after the subdivision hearing.
The Planning Commission regular meeting was reconvened at 7:25 p.m.
As discussion resumed, Commissioners requested a copy of the Ashcrofts’ written questions and comments for future reference. We may not be able to answer all your questions tonight, advised Lewis; but we will research. A copy of the notes will also be sent to the Zoning Administrator. Board members located the Old Green River Road property on the Town’s tax map. Patty Dow explained that under a grandfather clause in local regulations, an owner has a two-year period in which to rebuild a residence in the same footprint as the previous structure. The Board will investigate State statutory requirements regarding the renewed use of a failed septic system. Dow said wastewater regulations are set by the State; the Town does not have a Board of Health, although we do have a Health Officer who handles potential health issues.
A permit has been issued for the 10’ x 12’ shed which has been erected at 194 Old Green River Road; the permit contains a condition that the shed, which is close to the road, be removed by October 31st or the first snowfall.
The Board read through Section 510, Campgrounds, Exceptions(2)(a-c), and discussed Section 407, Temporary Uses and Structures, in the Halifax Zoning Regulation. These sections outline the restrictions on single travel trailers and recreational vehicles, and the conditions under which a temporary permit may be issued for emergency rebuilding. The wording of these regulations gave rise to further questions which the Board will research. The 194 Old Green River Road property belongs to Bonnie Lemay, said Valerie Ashcroft, and Lemay has purchased another home elsewhere. Board members agreed that in matters of permitting and adhering to statutes and local regulations the responsibility lies with the property owner, not the individuals currently residing on the land.
Lewis advised the Board would consult with Commissioner Bill Pusey, Zoning Administrator Bill Moore, and conduct further research on the Ashcrofts’ questions. He (Lewis) invited the Ashcrofts to resume the discussion at a future meeting. Dow asked whether the Ashcrofts were still considering offering a section land from their newly-acquired 5.5-acre parcel at159 Metcalf Road to increase the size of 194 Old Green River Road. Bill Ashcroft said that had been a consideration, but as an agreement between the parties could not be reached, the option was no longer available. We are merging the 5.5 acres with our main property, he added. In closing, Lewis promised to diligently pursue answers to the Ashcrofts’ questions.
Hearing of Visitors
The meeting was adjourned at 8:23 p.m.
Interim Planning Commission Secretary