OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
November 14, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:12 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Bill Pusey, Kaitlin Stone, Patty Dow, and Alice Aldrich were present, as were Stephan Chait, Janet Taylor, Paula Schultz, Cara Cheyette, John Rossetti, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
The Board added approval of October’s meeting minutes to the agenda.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Kaitlin Stone made a motion to approve the 10/10/17 meeting minutes as written. Bill Pusey seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0-2, with Turner Lewis and Alice Aldrich (who were not present on 10/10) abstaining.
John Rossetti, whose subdivision permit was recently approved by the Planning Commission, had questions about the conditions in the written decision. Those conditions state that a survey on Mylar and a new deed must be presented to the Town Clerk for recording within 180 days of subdivision approval. Rossetti wanted to know whether a new deed was necessary, given that no portion of the property is being sold at this time, and whether an extension of the 180-day period might be granted if a new deed must be prepared. Lewis said Vermont statute states the survey must be filed within 180 days, but he did not find any requirement for a new deed. Rossetti also asked for clarification on the start date of the filing period—did it begin when the decision for approval was issued, or fifteen days later, when the appeal period ended. Per statute, the 180-day period begins the day the written decision is issued.
Updated Permit Appeal Form
Commissioners reviewed copies of an updated appeal form. Patty Dow said that permit form had not been revised when all the other Town forms were updated earlier this year. Dow questioned the amount of the fee the Town charges for a variance appeal. An applicant pays a fee when they submit a request for a building permit, she said, then, if that permit is denied, the applicant must pay another $150 for a variance request. Bill Pusey made the point that processing a variance application involved labor and costs for notice publication and mailings. Lewis said he would find out who set permit fees and the subject could be revisited once that information was in hand.
Selectboard Request for FY19 Budget Proposal
The Planning Commission has received a letter from the Selectboard requesting proposed budget figures for the coming fiscal year. Lewis believes the basic Planning Commission budget can remain level-funded for FY19, but one unknown is whether the Town will be awarded a grant to help fund the Town Plan update. The update must proceed with or without grant funding; if no financial assistance is available the Town will need to cover the cost of expert assistance. In particular, Lewis noted that new sections addressing recent State legislative changes in flood resiliency requirements would be added to the Plan, and the Commission would need outside advice on that topic. Lewis said he will respond to the Selectboard’s request, and hopefully we will learn whether our grant application is approved before the Town’s budgeting work is complete. Stephan Chait asked what update costs would be. The Town applied for an $8,000 grant, responded Lewis and Alice Aldrich. An estimate submitted by Windham Regional Commission showed proposed costs just under that amount.
North River Geomorphic Informational Meeting
Lewis told the meeting that Windham Regional Commission and Evan Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald Environmental) would be holding an informational meeting in the Halifax Town Offices on November 28, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. This will be a joint Selectboard/Planning Commission meeting, and the public is invited.
Town Plan Update Discussion
Have we heard anything further from the State on the update?, asked Pusey. Lewis said no, we are aware of the flood resiliency issue, and WRC had recommended the Town Plan section on communication with neighboring municipalities be expanded. Otherwise there is nothing new for discussion. He told Chait the Commission would be reviewing all sections of the Plan when the revision work begins.
Lewis asked whether anyone had gone to WRC’s September 19th meeting in Dover on land conservancy use and transportation. No one present had attended.
Hearing of Visitors
The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Interim Planning Commission Secretary