OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
July 11, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:07 p.m. Planning Commission members Bill Pusey, Patricia Dow, and Alice Aldrich were present; Turner Lewis and Kaitlin Stone were unable to attend. Stephan Chait, Marilyn Allen, William Ashcroft, Valerie Ashcroft, Jason Ashcroft, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance, and Sue Kelly arrived at approximately 7:40 p.m.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
None. In Turner Lewis’ absence, Bill Pusey chaired the meeting.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Patty Dow made a motion to approve the 6/13/17 regular meeting minutes as written. Alice Aldrich seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Town Plan Discussion
The Planning Commission has received notice from WRC (Windham Regional Commission) of municipal planning grant availability. Gabriel explained that as the Halifax Town Plan was last approved in 2014, it will be due for re-adoption—with updates if needed—in 2019. As of 2016, Vermont statute requires town plan re-approval at eight year intervals, but the Halifax plan is still under the older, five-year expiration law. Towns desiring assistance preparing grant applications have been asked to respond to WRC by July 28th. Commissioners agreed to have Gabriel make that request and invite Senior Planner John Bennett to their August 8th regular meeting.
Following the Planning Commission’s June 13th discussion of the travel trailer and septic arrangements at 194 Old Green River Road, Alice Aldrich called ANR’s Jeffrey Svec with questions. Aldrich said she had learned State regulations do not allow travel trailers as permanent residences. They can be used as temporary housing while rebuilding, but cannot be used as winter housing. Pusey asked whether this was true even though the town had issued a one-year permit for the RV as temporary housing during reconstruction, and Aldrich replied that was her understanding. Patty Dow told the meeting that Constable Andy Rice was working on the abandoned car situation. The vehicle is in the right-of-way, but not the travel path, she said. Commissioners do not know whether the car is registered. The owner’s copy of the title was burned in the house fire.
Because the house trailer was on the property before 2007, the septic system may be replaced with an equivalent system, said Aldrich. The Old Green River Road property has a dry-well system. Health Officer Sue Kelly told Aldrich a dye is available that can be introduced to the drainage system. The dye would appear on the surface if there were breaches in the system. The State engineer also said that a failed septic would give off an odor; Aldrich asked the Ashcrofts if they had noticed this. It’s tough to tell, responded Jason Ashcroft, as there is a Port-A-Potty on the site. There are no State laws restricting Port-A-Potties, and no permits are required. Any house constructed to replace the one destroyed by fire must have the same number of bedrooms as the original; otherwise a new septic must be built. Why would they have a Port-A-Potty if the septic is functional?, asked Valerie Ashcroft. There may be a crushed pipe, replied Aldrich, but the only way to find out is by using the dye, or if odor is detected. If the residents can’t live in the RV over the winter, asked Stephan Chait, who enforces that? Aldrich believes that would be under State jurisdiction.
Hearing of Visitors
Bill Ashcroft asked how a utility shed for housing farm equipment would be classified for tax purposes. That would be a lister question, answered Dow. A short general discussion of State requirements for agricultural classification followed.
Chait mentioned a property on 112, near the Massachusetts line, where various cars and box trailers are stored. They have grown in number, he said, to include old logging equipment and lumber piles. Pusey said as of last year the vehicles were registered, and therefore legal. In answer to Marilyn Allen’s question about junkyard requirements, Pusey said three unregistered vehicles are allowed on a property, and junkyards must have a fence around them. If vehicles are being sold from the property, a junkyard permit from the State is required, added Aldrich.
Aldrich made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:45 p.m. Dow seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Interim Planning Commission Secretary