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Zoning Board of Appeals — Meeting Minutes — March 27, 2008
Shelburne Town Hall

A duly posted joint meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board was held at the Selectmen's Meeting Room, 51 Bridge Street, Shelburne.

ZBA Present: Joseph Palmeri, Lowell Laporte, John Taylor, William Sweeney, Ted Merrill
ZBA Absent: Catherine Smith, Laurie MacLeod
Planning Board Present: Charles Washer, John Payne, Beth Simmons, Chris Davenport
Planning Board Absent: Rodney McBride

Visitors: Karen Gould, Kevin Parsons, Richard Dils, Beverly Neeley, James Gamache, Sylvia Davenport, Laurence Flaccus

Planning Board Chair Charles Washer called the meeting to order at 7:07pm and recognized those present. Washer designated John Payne to chair the remainder of the meeting to discuss revising the Zoning Bylaws.

A copy of the minutes of the 3/13/08 meeting was not available for adoption as that Clerk Pro Tem was absent. John Taylor was selected to serve the Boards as Clerk Pro Tem for this evening.

Payne reviewed the meeting agenda. Resident Richard Dils rose to express distain that no public comment time was on the agenda. He stated that it was improper to hold any public meeting without time set for public comment. Payne disagreed, citing this as a joint board meeting for board discussion, but advised that time could be given at the end of the meeting, as time allowed.

Simmons expressed concern about the schedule of the informational meetings and the Planning Board did not vote on the dates of the information sessions and public hearings. Payne stated he believed the Planning Board members present at the 3/13/08 meeting agreed to those dates. Simmons stated that the Planning Board could not make such a decision at a joint meeting. Others disagreed. Further Simmons recalled that the Board had voted in early Autumn not to bring anything to Town Meeting in 2008 and the process was flawed. Payne reviewed the revision process.

After repeated interruptions from some visitors, Sweeney voiced objection to the Chair, citing MGL Chapter 39 Section 23c, that the outbursts were distracting. The Chair reminded the visitors of his previous statement concerning public comment.

The Boards continued general discussion about the need to proceed with Bylaw amendments with members citing lack of detail, lack of any "proof" that change was needed, and a need to learn more. Palmeri reviewed recent legal challenges and numerous comments from the ZBA, citizens, and attorneys supporting the need to update parts of the bylaws. Washer explained that the bylaws should be a "living document" and that the proposed changes could be changed again in the future if the voters so chose. Taylor echoed Washers comments, remarking that it would be a better and easier process if the Town did not wait 9 years to accumulate so many issues.

At 7:30pm Payne recognized Sylvia Davenport who was invited to discuss questions about the zoning district near the intersection of S Maple St and Route 2. Members explained the lack of clarity of where the rural commercial district ends and the village commercial district begins. Mrs Davenport said that they have always thought that they are in the route 2 (rural) commercial area but asked for additional time to review the documents.

Simmons questioned whether Payne is the "best" person to represent the Planning Board at this time. She further criticized that Payne's use of email to disseminate the agendas and revision documents was in violation of Open Meeting Law. Payne clarified his understanding of the Open Meeting Law based on the recent training session and stated that he has not sent or seen any emails where there has been "discussion or deliberation" which would be prohibited.

At approximately 8:00pm discussion about potential zoning bylaw revisions was undertaken. Payne reported on the recommendations from Legal Counsel and noted where changes had been made in response those recommendations. He further reviewed the changes made as a result of input from the last meeting. There was lengthy discussion on numerous parts of the proposal with further clarifications made and changes noted in the document. Correction and edits were recorded by Payne on the draft. Payne will distribute.

Payne returned to Sylvia Davenport who reiterated her earlier thoughts, and advised she would have to think more and she would attend an upcoming hearing.

The group reviewed the new Special Permit Section 6.0, and the changes recommended by Town Counsel. Lengthy discussion on whether the section was "too vague" or "too complex", and discussion on the "importance" of adding this section. Edits were noted to correct the reference to the ZBA to change to the "Special Permit Granting Authority".

The Chair asked for any last comments on additional changes and clarifications. There was discussion on renumbering some sections for clarity. Payne will undertake a renumbering of the definition section.

The Chair asked if the document was ready for a public hearing. All five members of the Zoning Board of Appeals encouraged the Planning Board to bring a proposal to the voters this year; as a public hearing to allow them a chance to hear and comment more and ultimately vote one way or another at Town Meeting. There was further discussion on the readiness of the document, the options for further amendment, and public's ability to digest zoning bylaw language.

At 9:58pm, the Chair recognized comments from the public:

Flaccus - comments included recommendations on wording of "historic" structures, clarifications on the Special Permit Granting Authority, and suggested further study of "bars", and "adult entertainment" regulations.
Parsons - comments included recommendations on wording of Inns, "Processing" activities including possibly slaughterhouses, and setback requirements. He supported bringing the discussion to the voters.

Washer asked that it be noted for the record that he did not participate in discussion relative to Parsons' slaughterhouse questions as he might have a potential conflict of interest as a result of family members who are farmers.

Dils - expressed concern that this proposal has potential to diminish personal property rights and that the proposal is too complicated for voters to understand, supported change to the Special Permit section only, made recommendations to further study the bylaws and include "more modern zoning techniques" than those currently used.
Gould - requested the Board further study height regulations, cell towers, and the special permitting process, and expressed frustration on the "rush" of the process and lack of public participation.
S. Davenport - Expressed concern about the late hour and asked that the Board get further input.

At this point Washer returned to sit as Chair of the meeting. He opened discussion for the Planning Board members about their wishes to proceed or not, and where.

Payne moved that the Planning Board put forth the final zoning revision document/map, as revised during this meeting, to the Public Hearing process in order to have it considered by the Town Meeting. Simmons seconded the motion for discussion.

Following much discussion by the Planning Board the Chair called for a vote. The vote was 1 in favor, 1 opposed, and 1 abstention. Washer, citing his privilege to break a tie, cast his vote in favor.

Voting in Favor: Payne, Washer
Voting Opposed: Simmons
Abstaining: Davenport
Absent: McBride

Payne reported that he would compile the paperwork for the upcoming informational meetings and hearings. Washer was questioned again on the dates for the meetings. Washer stressed the dates had been agreed upon at the last meeting and as Chair he affirmed that decision.

Both Boards, in turn, voted to adjourn at 10:50pm.

Respectfully submitted,

John E Taylor
Clerk Pro-tem