TOWN OF SOUTH HERO
Planning Commission with Zoning Board of Adjustment
March 18, 2015 Meeting Minutes – Draft
Planning Commission Members Present: George (Terry) Delano, Doug Patterson, Sandy Gregg and David Roy
Planning Commission members absent: Sandra O’Flaherty
Zoning Board of Adjustment members present: Janice Fetsch, Paula Delano, George Rice, Kent Goodwin, Sherry Corbin, and Alayne Rabow
Zoning Board of Adjustment members absent: None
Zoning Board of Adjustment members recused for the hearing: Timothy Maxham and Jim Baker
Staff Present: Mitchel Cypes
Others present from the sign in sheet: Glenn Ravdin, Kim Ravdin, Jim Baker, Kelly Cota, Tim Cota, David Smail and Tim Maxham
7:03PM: Call to order by Janice Fetsch for the Zoning Board of Adjustment and by Terry Delano for the Planning Commission
7:04PM Additions or Deletions to the Agendas: No change was requested
7:06PM: FR033-15-46B, Cota Family Trust, Conditional Use and Site Plan Review for Proposed Propane and Wood Pellet Retail Businesses and Proposed Commercial Use / Storage structures. Paula Delano read the hearing notice. Board introductions were provided to the Public. Applicants Tim Cota and Kelly Cota, and all the members of the Public in attendance were sworn in by Paula Delano. The Applicants read the application and testified the following:
- The current approved uses on the property include a commercial garage with an office, sand, salt and firewood retail, which includes wood pellets, a snow plow service and lawnmower repair shop.
- Hours of operation are from 7AM to 7PM, Monday through Friday, and 8AM to 6PM on Saturday and Sunday for all businesses except the snow plow business, which of necessity is a 24×7 operation.
- The Applicants propose that the new uses would operate at the same hours as their other non-snow-plowing businesses and utilize the same parking.
- The Applicants are proposing to add a propane retail business. They propose to have two 500-gallon tanks that would be used to fill customers’ BBQ tanks, forklift tanks and construction tanks.
- Customers come with own tanks or come to swap tanks. The business also delivers full tanks and collects empty tanks using a side-loader truck, which is filled 2 to 3 times per week, to customers in both Vermont and New York.
- The estimate for traffic on to the property has not changed, except they have found that the time of the afternoon peak traffic hour is 4:30PM to 5:30PM instead of 3:30PM to 4:30PM as stated on past applications. The peak hours listed in this application reflects the new time. The maximum truck traffic is usually 2 or 3 per day.
- The previous conditional use and site plan approvals stated that there were 20 parking spaces on the property, which has satisfied their needs. This includes 2 parking spaces near and for the accessory dwelling adjacent to Ferry Road.
- The proposed structures, which already exist but were not previously permitted, were labeled with numbers for clarity on an edited plan and include the following:
- Proposed structure #1 is a 300sf+ pie-shaped storage.
- Proposed structure #2 is a 150sf+ storage area on an existing slab.
- Proposed structure #3 is a 176sf+ non-movable cargo trailer for storage.
- Proposed structure #4 is a 214sf+ open-walled structure on an existing slab, which would shelter the existing and proposed 500-gallon propane tanks.
- Proposed structure #5 is a 242sf+ open-walled structure on an existing slab.
- Buildings 4 and 5 have roofs supported by metal studs and no walls. The perimeter of building 4 is fenced. The reason for these structures is to provide protection from the rain for the sale of propane. The open walls allow free air flow.
- The Applicants described the residential trailer located near Ferry Road and noted that the shed associated with the residence has been removed.
- They park 2 movable road trailers on the property located near the residential trailer. One has empty BBQ tanks and the other has empty BBQ tank cages. These tanks and cages are placed on the trailers in the winter so they do not freeze to the ground. Neither are used for propane retail.
- The Applicants do not propose to add additional landscaping to that which was placed for a prior approval. This included 5 or 6 6-foot tall shrubs, which were placed along Davis Hill Road. There are also 3 red maples in front of the trailers near Ferry Road.
- The firewood business, which was located near Ferry Road, is operating near the lower bunker because of the need to park the trailers.
- The Applicants stated that the side loader is often parked by the driveway near the residential trailer by Ferry Road. Sometimes there are 2 trucks parked in that driveway.
- The small engine repairs, which was previously permitted, is not currently active.
- The previously approved wood processing equipment, which is not currently in operation, is being storage by Ferry Road. The Applicants in response to the Board’s inquiry stated they would not object to a condition to keep the wood processing operation away from Ferry Road.
- There is a 500 gallon double-walled diesel tank and a 500 gallon gas tank located near the office for personal business use, but not for retail.
- The Applicants currently have one 500-gallon propane tank in building 4. They are proposing to place a 2nd 500-gallon propane tank in building 4. They own and operate a #16 bobtail truck that has a capacity to hold 2,600 gallons of propane and a #11 bobtail truck that has a capacity to hold 3,000 gallons of propane. They may have up to 250 20lb (4 gallon) canisters. The maximum these tanks can be safely filled is 80%. The total proposed propane capacity was calculated to be 6,200 gallons.
- The Applicants also own a #14 bobtail tank truck that has a capacity to hold 2,600 gallons of propane.
- The Applicants stated that bobtail trucks are filled at Patterson Fuels in Richmond. The trucks fill, or would fill, the 500-gallon propane tanks and not vice-versa.
- The Applicants stated that their septic permit is current and includes a monitored Advan Tex system. There are bedrooms and a bathroom in the accessory dwelling. The office has a bathroom.
- They helped train the fire department to deal with a propane emergency. The fire department is fine with their current situation, but has not been contacted about adding a 2nd 500-gallon propane tank. 4 of his 5 employees are trained to work with propane. Only the office worker is not trained to work with propane.
- The Applicants stated that they have a $5,000,000 insurance policy.
- Applicants stated that wood pellets are sold at both the upper and lower bunkers.
- Applicants stated that there is no proposed change to the existing utilities.
- Applicants stated that there is a gate by the driveway near the lower bunker to stop vehicular traffic from entering the property. Concern was raised whether the propane tanks were an attractive nuisance. The Applicants stated that should someone fire a bullet and hit a propane tank, the tank would not explode.
- The Applicants stated that have had no problem with truck vehicle circulation on the property.
- The trucks are permitted by the State. The 500-gallon on-site tanks do not require a State permit. Tim Cota has a license to certify tanks and the State, through Chris Herrick’s office, monitors the tanks.
The Boards explained to the Applicants that a use permit is required for his property and not for residential landowners with similar-sized propane tanks, because they are proposing a retail business. The Boards and the Applicants discussed the multiple propane retail uses on Ferry Road and possible ways to combine the uses. The Board and the Applicants discussed whether there should be a condition restricting the transferability of the business to another property owner. Applicants stated that the pump station located at 1 Ferry Road would be removed if the Applicants sold the business at that location.
7:59PM: A motion to accept the edited As-Built Site Plan into evidence as exhibit #1 was made by Paula Delano, seconded by Kent Goodwin and approved unanimously.
8:00PM: A motion to accept the Memorandum from the Applicant to the South Hero Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment, dated February 19, 2015, into evidence as exhibit #2 was made by Doug Patterson, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.
8:20PM: A motion to accept the letter from Glenn Ravdin, Kimberly Ravdin, Andrew Ionta, Audrey Magram, Elissa Giroux and Rocky Giroux to the South Hero Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment, dated March 18, 2015, into evidence as exhibit #3 was made by Terry Delano, seconded by Sherry Corbin and approved unanimously.
- Glenn Ravdin introduced himself and said he is a resident of Davis Hill Road. A letter signed by him and 5 other residents had been provided to the Boards. He stated his concerns that the woods adjacent to property, which contain 13 residents, could catch fire in an accident. He mentioned how a similar situation occurred in 1994 by the fish hatchery in Grand Isle Town. He said he originally thought 10,000-gallons of combined propane tanks were proposed, but is more accepting that only 1,000-gallons of tanks are proposed. From the letter he raised/stated the following questions/comments:
- Ravdin asked how often do trucks enter and exit the property? The Applicants responded that the side-loader is filled once or twice a week.
- Ravdin asked how often the tanks would be filled. The Applicants responded that the tanks are filled daily in the morning and most of 400 gallons of propane is used to fill the cylinders at night to be sold the next day.
- The Applicants confirmed that the trucks are registered.
- Ravdin commented that if the propane on one of the trucks exploded the blast would affect anything within 500 feet.
- Ravdin asked if the Fire Department was able to contain with foam a propane fire. The Applicants responded that last fall they provided training for the local Fire Department on how to extinguish a propane tank fire. The exercise included igniting a 500 gallon propane tank, for which they supplied propane.
- Ravdin asked if the Applicants have chemicals on site available to stop propane fires. The Applicants responded that they have fire extinguishers which can extinguish propane fires. The Applicants stated they have fire extinguishers on the trucks, 6 in the buildings and 4 more on the exterior of the buildings, and they keep fire extinguishers current and in bags to protect the extinguishers from elements.
- Ravdin expressed concern regarding enforcement, which Staff explained the process.
- Ravdin commented that the two 500-gallon propane tanks should not be allowed to combine, because doing so would create a greater danger.
- James Baker expressed concerns regarding the visibility of the storage trailers, that the trailers were not in the hearing warning, that there are a lot of tanks stored near Ferry Road, that the amount of propane use on the site will continue to increase and that the business does not fit the character of the neighborhood. In response the Applicants stated that they agree the usable area on the property is small, which is why they proposed to move to 15 Ferry Road or may move elsewhere, and gave examples of other propane dealerships that are much bigger. James Baker requested screening for the trucks that are parked near Ferry Road and stated that the Fire Marshall had jurisdiction to review the Applicants proposal.
8:50PM: A motion to schedule a site visit for April 1, 2015 at 6:00PM was made by Sherry Corbin, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously
8:51PM: A motion to recess the hearing to 7:00PM on April 1, 2015 was made by George Rice, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.
8:52PM Tim Maxham and Jim Baker joined the Zoning Board of Adjustment
8:52PM: Public Input; no Public remained.
8:52PM: Administrative Officer’s Report included the following:
- A potential application for development with non-conforming setback that does not increase the footprint or greatest building height was discussed. The consensus was that the application could be administratively approved.
- There are currently no new hearing applications that have not been heard. Applications that are expected to be submitted soon are a request for a variance for a boundary adjustment CH008/CH004, Remedies Pharmacy for a Conditional Use and Site Plan application and the Blow family for Final Subdivision of the Lakeview Drive property.
- 5th Monday meeting. Request to have draft Town Plan available for review prior to the meeting.
- The sign regulations were reviewed. The consensus was that sign permits were not required for internal signs and new permits were not required for updates to existing signs.
- There was consensus that a permit was not required for reconstruction of a building in kind, which would be considered maintenance.
9:20PM: The Boards separated.
9:26PM: A motion to approve the Planning Commission Minutes with corrections for March 4, 2015 was made by Sandy Gregg, seconded by Doug Patterson and approved unanimously.
9:27PM: The Planning Commission, with Zoning Board of Adjustment members Tim Maxham and Paula Delano in attendance, reviewed and discussed the Town Plan update.
10:42PM: A motion was made by the Planning Commission to go in to deliberative session by Doug Patterson, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.
11:06PM: A motion was made to come out of deliberative session and to adjourn the meeting was made by Doug Patterson, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.
Respectfully submitted by Mitchel Cypes, Administrative Officer.
For Planning Commission