TOWN OF SOUTH HERO
Planning Commission with Zoning Board of Adjustment
July 30, 2014 Draft Meeting Minutes
Planning Commission Members Present: George (Terry) Delano, Doug Patterson, Sandra O’Flaherty, Sandy Gregg and David Roy
Planning Commission Members Absent: None
Zoning Board of Adjustment members present: Timothy Maxham, Gwen Hobbs, Paula Delano, Steven Nedde, Courtland Perry, Jim Baker, and Alayne Rabow after 7:38PM
Zoning Board of Adjustment member recused: George Rice
Staff Present: Mitchel Cypes
Others present from sign-in sheet: Michael Wichrowski, Jim Burke, Louis Porter, Michael Walker, Charlie Pinkham, Janet Pinkham, Nancy Boileau, Betty Heywood, Andrew Levallee, David Carter, George Rice, Paul Boileau, Ruby Brezinisky, Clyde Wigness, Penny Echenberg, Gorden Echenberg, Richard Phinney and Anne Zolotas
7:30PM: Call to order for the hearing by Tim Maxham. He asked the Public if there were any requested additions or deletions to the agenda. Hearing none the hearing proceeded. He mentioned the site visit, which occurred between 6:00PM and 7:15PM. He then provided instructions on how the meeting will be conducted and initiated introductions of the boards.
7:32PM: Continuance: FL005-14-71B / Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Conditional Use, Site Plan Review and Subdivision Amendment for Public Boat Launch Facility and realignment of Featherbed Lane. Gwen Hobbs provided the oath. The applicants and many in the Public were sworn in.
Michael Wichrowski and Jim Burke reintroduced themselves. Louis Porter, Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, introduced himself. The Applicants testified the following:
- They are proposing to relocate the existing Kiosk to a be in conformance with the prior zoning decision and required setbacks.
- They showed the proposed grading, which were added to plans to show proposed drainage patterns, the parking area cross sections, which defined the stone swale, and the grass swale check dams, which were a requirement of the State stormwater permit.
- Proposed solar lights, which are to be the only proposed lighting on this project, are located at the ADA ramp adjacent to the realigned Featherbed Lane, was described as only to be bright enough to illuminate the ADA crosswalk area.
- After a request from the Boards, the Applicants stated that a mooring plan submitted to USACOE and the Coast Guard could be provided, which the Boards said they want to see. The Applicants stated that they would like to create an official navigation channel for access and egress from the proposed boat launch. The Boards expressed concerns regarding boat crowding and discussed the channel as a requirement. The Applicants expressed concern for a condition which they cannot control. The Boards suggested a recent USACOE permits from recent adjacent project, which could be of assistance to the Applicants.
- The Applicants stated that the property was purchased in two parts. The parking area property was purchased in December of 2011 and the ramp area as purchased in March 2012. They stated that the property was used as a boat launch. The Boards stated that the use was a private boat launch and that changing the use from a private boat launch to a Public facility, which was done soon after the purchase of the properties, should have only been allowed after a Public hearing with the Town and that a zoning violation should have been issued by the Town.
- The Applicants, asked whether they discussed this project with the Grand Isle Sheriff’s office, responded by saying they discussed Allen Point project with them. Sandy Gregg stated that she spoke to Sherriff Ray Allen, who said that he had no knowledge of the project or this hearing.
A letter submitted by Paul Boileau was read. In the letter Mr. Boileau requested the placement of a rock wall at the parking lot intersection with Featherbed Lane, which would limit the boat access from Featherbed Lane to the boat launch. He also raised concerns regarding signage, parking overflow, water quality and channel markings. Also submitted were a letter from Mr. Boileau to the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife from 2011 stating the same concerns and the Commissioner’s reply.
8:04PM: A motion to admit the Boileau letters as evidence was made by Court Perry, seconded by Sandy Gregg and was approved unanimously.
The Applicants stated that many of these concerns were addressed in the process of obtaining State and Federal permits for stormwater mitigation, erosion control, wetland impacts, lake encroachment and approval from the US Army Corp of Engineers. Silt curtains will be placed to limit erosion. Permits requirements affected design, which is reflected in plans. Floodplain impacts were reviewed by the State, but no permit is required. The updated plan with the proposed grading was discussed.
8:07PM: A motion to admit the updated plan with the proposed grading as evidence was made by Sandra O’Flaherty, seconded by David Roy and was approved unanimously.
Additional Board discussion with the Applicants included the following:
- Discussion on proposed guardrail placement noted that just moving the curve extending around Featherbed Lane would create a gap in the guardrail. Applicants stated they would extend guard rail to fill in the gap.
- Upon request the Applicants stated that they discussed with the Town Clerk the possibility of changing the property from a Featherbed Lane address to a Route 2 address.
- The Applicants testified that the power line between two poles adjacent to the boat launch will be buried to allow a clear area for sailboat masts.
- The Applicants testified that the proposed fishing access signs need approval from AOT, who will place and maintain the signs.
- The Applicants described the stormwater flow over the property and stated that the current culvert under Featherbed Lane can accommodate a 10-year storm event. The Applicants testified that they will replace the existing culvert with a 48-inch culvert with an invert that is 1-foot deeper than the existing. It was noted that the invert, or lowest portion of the pipe, for the proposed culvert will approximately be at elevation 100, which will allow two way flow through the culvert when Lake Champlain is at flood elevations.
- The location of proposed fence extension was discussed and described to be from high water line to the realigned Featherbed Lane. The Applicants testified that a bollard at the Featherbed Lane end of the fence will be placed to reduce possibility that the fence would be run over.
- The Applicants testified that they currently plow their entrances to the boat launch and will continue to do so in the future.
- There was a discussion on paving Featherbed Lane from Route 2 to the boat launch. The Applicants stated that doing so would end argument by homeowners that the Public should not use Featherbed Lane and that they were concerned that the pavement would be ripped up if paved by the plows. The Applicants stated that the new apron will need to be maintained by Featherbed Lane associations.
- There was agreement for the need for the realigned Featherbed Lane to meet Town road standards. These standards were discussed and provided to Applicants.
- Representatives of the Featherbed Lane Association stated that the cost to maintain the road has fallen on the residents and that the wear on the road is mostly caused by the boats. The Applicants stated that they could spend $200 per year on maintenance fees or they can fix that portion of the road, which will be a problem from boat users, who will complain to the State.
- Landscaping per Section 504 was discussed. Concern was raised that vegetation is going to be stripped and many large trees removed, but that the subject of restoring the vegetation to the area has not been addressed. A plan showing the types of trees, number of trees and placement of trees needs to be submitted. Applicants stated a plan exists and will be provided. The location of proposed screening was discussed.
- Clyde Wigness testified that the Featherbed Association members pay $450 per household per year for road maintenance. The former land owner of the boat launch area used to pay $900 per year for road maintenance.
- Ruby Brezinski requested a correction to the unapproved minutes for July 16th stating that the worst damage on Featherbed Lane was only by the boat crossing and not at Route 2. She stated that the Department of Fish and Wildlife had not paid dues to maintain Featherbed Lane. She stated that the parking lot was poorly maintained and questioned how well the Department of Fish and Wildlife would maintain Featherbed Lane. She wanted the record clarified that the movement of Featherbed Lane is being required by the Vermont Agency of Transportation to extend boat launch and not the Featherbed Lane residents. She restated concerns that boats will still find using Featherbed Lane more convenient and cars are going to use the parking area as a park & ride. She said that she called the Warden, who told her that he has to watch 8 access areas and is not able to do anything about boats using Featherbed Lane and cars using the parking area as a park & ride. She also said that the dry hydrant will also be a burden to the residents. There was a clarification regarding night time use of the parking area in that many people fish at night.
- Tim Maxham stated that he saw on the previous Saturday 4 boats and 57 cars with trailers in the parking area. He stated he also saw a boat leaving the area using Featherbed Lane. He stated to the Public that these Board are regulatory boards not enforcement entities. He also stated his belief that all 3 accesses could be combined.
- Louis Porter, Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, stated his wish to make the development acceptable to the Public and that changes from prior hearing have been made. He stated that they are trying to strike a good balance and that the new design for the site solves many of the issues raised. He said that the updated entry alignment to the boat launch from Featherbed Lane will be difficult to maneuver a boat to the launch from Featherbed Lane. He also stated that the design includes drainage improvements, burying a power line and a better alignment for Featherbed Lane even though required by the Agency of Transportation. He stated that they believe that paving Featherbed Lane to the boat launch would encourage use of Featherbed Lane. Also they have recently enlarged their warden force and that one large access for the boat launch, Featherbed Lane residents and the vacant Near Costal Holdings property would be difficult to arrange.
- Alayne Rabow asked about placing a camera to stop people from doing what they should not be doing. Louis Porter stated that State laws limit such camera use and that it is hard to tell from a picture who is doing what.
- Sandy Gregg asked if Apple Island Resort was contacted to have their trailers use the Fish and Wildlife access, so all trailers would use that access. The Applicants responded that the new design will make it easier to use parking area to enter boat launch than Featherbed Lane. Attendees were reminded that Apple Island Resort has an easement on Featherbed Lane to allow their customers boat access using Featherbed Lane, and that this allowed use cannot be restricted in this hearing.
- The Applicants stated that the realignment of Featherbed Lane address concerns regarding icing due to better grading, parking would be cut in half if the access was realigned to other entrance, and paving and combining the entrances would go counter to the request not to have boats block access to the Featherbed Lane residents.
- Ruby Brezinski stated that the residents would not object to the longer better route and that it was the State that would not wish to do so.
- Paul Boileau recommended having one way in and one way out of the parking area at the Featherbed Lane crossing with stone to separate these areas would make it difficult to use Featherbed Lane to make turn. The applicants stated that they would place bollards to limit people from turning on to the boat launch from Featherbed Lane.
- Anne Zolatas provided an update on the dry hydrant permitting and that movement of the utility pole would help, but is not necessary.
- Andy Lavallee expressed his concern that giving up vested interest of Featherbed Lane regarding maintenance and drainage may be a problem for the residents. He said that the proposed 48-inch pipe would help, but wanted to ensure the vested interest of the State. The Applicants stated in response that Apple Island Resort currently owns property. State ownership will allow the State to better address maintenance.
- The Board requested a copy of Stormwater calculations and erosion control plan be provided to the town. Having the State provide copies of annual inspection reports to the Town was discussed.
- Also discussed were the stone drains, drainage patterns, use of Near Costal Holdings property, proposed paved area and location of ADA crosswalks. It was noted that the current paved area on Featherbed Lane extends 70 feet from US Route 2.
- The Applicants reviewed the requested information and listed the following:
- A plan sent to the Coast Guard requesting a navigational channel
- Updating the plans to show the proposed extended guard rail
- Provide the Agency of Transportation signage contact
- Ensure that the realigned Featherbed Lane meets town roads standards
- Provide a vegetation plan.
- Update the plans to show the existing culvert being replaced with a proposed 48-inch culvert.
- Submit stormwater calculations to town.
- Tim Maxham stated his concerns regarding erosion and placement of stone in the drainage swales. The Applicants stated that stone check dams are proposed in the proposed drainage swale to limit erosion and that the grass surface is required by the State stormwater permit to provide water quality treatment.
- The Applicants stated that they contacted Rebecca Pfeiffer regarding work in the floodplain. They said that she told them that comments have to be requested by the Town. Staff stated he would contact her.
- The Applicants stated that they would appreciate recommendations on sign verbiage.
- South Hero sign may need to be moved, not to screen F&WL sign.
- Ruby Brezinski requested that the state place signs stating the area was not to be used as a park and ride. The Applicants showed her a possible sign for her to review.
- The Board thanked Applicants for good staking provided during the site visit.
9:28PM: A motion to recess the hearing to August 20th at 7:00PM was made by Dave Roy, seconded by Doug Patterson and was approved unanimously.
9:31PM: Administrative Officer’s Report, the new open meeting law, the seminar by Jim Condos discussing the new open meeting law and some procedural changes were discussed. Plans for the following week’s hearing were distributed.
9:40PM: The remaining Public was in attendance for a ZBA agenda item. No remaining Public remained to attend the meeting for discussion with the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission moved to a separate meeting location to continue the meeting.
The Planning Commission reviewed of meeting minutes from July 16, 2014. Ruby Brezinski has a disagreement with content of the meeting minutes for July 16, 2014. The Commission decided to cross out the words “the entrance to US Route 2” on page 2 line 30, listing this area as part of the worse portion of the existing Featherbed Lane. The Commission also discussed the question of a traffic light being mentioned in the meeting minutes.
9:50PM: A motion to accept the minutes as amended was made by Dave Roy, seconded by Sandy Gregg and was approved unanimously.
The Commission discussed the concern raised by Jim Condos of using cloud services may not be conforming to the open meeting law and whether the new State shoreland protection act regulates or places restrictions on septic systems. Should the Town require a septic permit upon sale of a property? The Commission also discussed the requirement not to “reply all” except when in deliberations to conform to open meeting law.
The Commission discussed the Town Plan update. The Commission after a discussion decided to keep the current format and update the content for now and not re-organize the Town Plan. The Town Plan could be reformatted in 1 to 2 years and/or completely modified to a new format in 5-years. The Commission distributed the continuing work on the Town Plan as follows:
- Objectives – to be discussed later
- Land Use plan – Terry Delano
- Transportation Plan – Sandra O’Flaherty
- Utility and Facility plan – Sandy Gregg
- Statement of Policies on Natural and Historic Resources – Sandy Gregg
- Educational Facilities plan – Sandra O’Flaherty
- Recommended program for development of the implementation of the development plan – Sandy Gregg
- A statement that indicates relationship to surrounding region – NRPC – Doug Patterson.
- Energy Plan with assistance from Bob Buermann – Sandra O’Flaherty and David Roy
- Housing element – Encouraging accessory dwelling unit specs – Sandra O’Flaherty and Terry Delano
- Economic development – David Roy
- Flood resistance plan – Doug Patterson
The Commission noted that the revised Town Plan needs to be completed by the Planning Commission by Dec. 1, 2014 for Select Board approval in March of 2015 and decided to review and look at the re-formatting option before updating the portions of the Town Plan listed above.
Sandy Gregg will work on determining how the Town can receive more grants and possibilities for municipal planning grants. The Commission agreed to the need to review grants applications prior to submittal.
Terry Delano and David Roy will do the initial review of the draft decision for the FL005-14-71B – Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife application.
The Commission will plan to go through the development standards at the next meeting.
10:24PM: A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Sandy Gregg, seconded by Sandra O’Flaherty and approved unanimously.
Respectfully submitted by Mitchel Cypes, Administrative Officer, with assistance from David Roy.
For Planning Commission