Upcoming Meetings

  1. Open Space Committee MeetingMon, Aug 27 07:00 pm

Planning Board -- Meeting Minutes -- June 27, 2012

A duly posted meeting of the Shelburne Planning Board was held in Memorial Hall meeting room on June 27, 2012.

Present: Matt Marchese, Chair, John Wheeler, Doug Finn, Beth Simmonds, Chuck Washer
Liz Kidder, Administrative Assistant
Absent: none
Audience: Janet Sinclair, Judy Truesdell, Deborah Andrews
Meeting was recorded by Janet Sinclair.
Press: Cameron Graves, Shelburne Falls & West County Independent


Matt mentioned that he had received an email from the FRCOG that will be distributed to all board members regarding training workshops that would be advantageous for board members to partake of if they wish.

II. APPROVAL OF PAST MINUTES: Minutes of the meetings held on April 27 and May 9, 2012, were distributed by Beth Simmonds for review by the Board.

Motion on April 27 minutes: Matt has reviewed the minutes and moves to pass them as written. This motion was seconded by Doug. It was noted that Chuck was absent from that meeting and John was not on board. No discussion. The motion passed by with 3 votes in favor, 0 opposed, and 2 abstentions by John and Chuck.

Motion on May 9 minutes: Matt moved to approve the minutes as written. This motion was seconded by Doug. The motion passed with 3 votes in favor, 0 opposed, and 2 abstentions by John and Chuck since they were not in attendance at that meeting.

III. BOARD ELECTIONS AND COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS: This is the first meeting since town elections and Matt opened up the floor for nominations for Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary of the Board and committee appointments: Open Space and the FRCOG Planning Board.

Nominations for Chair of the Planning Board: Matt Marchese was nominated by Doug and seconded by Chuck. Matt said he was willing to continue and accepted the nomination. Beth noted she was appreciative of the time that Matt has put in - way above and beyond. John stated that he had observed many meetings and hearings and felt that Matt was considered fair and open minded.

Matt Marchese was elected Chair of the Planning Board by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, with one abstention by Matt.

Nomination for Vice Chair of the Planning Board: Beth nominated Chuck, seconded by Matt. Chuck made it clear that he has to recuse himself in all discussions regarding wind energy bylaws and subdivision control regulations since there is still an active contract relating to his family. Chuck declined the nomination.

Matt nominated Beth as Vice Chair of the Planning Board and John seconded the nomination. Beth accepted the nomination. Matt noted that Beth had always been there when needed. Beth Simmonds was elected Vice Chair of the Planning Board by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed and 1 abstention by Beth.

Nomination for Secretary of the Planning Board: Chuck nominated Doug as Secretary of the Planning Board and he was seconded by Beth. Douglas Finn was elected Secretary of the Planning Board by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 abstention by Doug.

FRCOG Planning Board Seat: Matt noted that the Selectboard had appointed Chuck as their representative and the Planning Board needs to fill their seat as well. Matt said the FRCOG has some very important matters on their agenda - wind, transportation, economic development plans. Chuck noted that by serving you are involved with more than just your local town. The FRCOG can serve as an effective voice on issues being addressed in the legislature that affects Shelburne. Chuck pointed out that he also has to recuse himself there as well on wind energy and subdivision discussions. Matt nominated Beth and was seconded by Doug. Beth Simmonds was elected the Planning Board representative to the FRCOG Planning Board by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 abstention by Beth.

Shelburne Open Space Committee: Doug and Beth have been sharing this position. Beth nominated Doug to continuing serving on the committee and was seconded by Chuck. Doug Finn was elected to serve as the Planning Board representative to the Open Space committee by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 abstention by Doug.

a. Introduction of new administrative assistant/clerk for the Board, Liz Kidder -Matt introduced Liz and noted that she is going to serve as clerk to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Board of Health and he hopes this will foster communication between boards. Liz will be in charge of agendas, minutes, filing, etc. He noted that Liz has a background in planning and government and she should speak up if she has comments to share.

b. and c. Update/discussion on FRCOG RFP process for technical assistance in developing a Wind Turbine Bylaw and Discuss next steps for Wind Turbine Bylaw

[Chuck Washer noted that he is recusing himself from discussion on this agenda item.] Matt heard from Peggy Sloan that she is willing to rewrite the RFP to obtain Technical Assistance for the Planning Board as they develop a wind energy bylaw. There were no responses to the original RFP and the feedback was that it wasn't cost effective at $5,000. Matt suggested reducing the scope of services and try to get the board some technical help through the end of the year.

Matt needs to hear from the board regarding what they want to do. Matt reminded the board that the town had voted a ban on commercial wind, and a moratorium to give the Planning Board the time to develop/research a bylaw. Matt noted that the Board could approach this in two ways. First develop a small scale/premises use wind bylaw. Second, the Board could also prepare a bylaw that covered Commercial Wind Power facilities since many of the issues to be addressed are similar. Recognizing that Town Meeting banned Commercial Wind Facilities, Matt noted there is nothing that would keep the Board from working on a commercial wind bylaw. Any bylaws developed by the Planning Board have to be passed by a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting. It would be up to Town Meeting to decide if they wanted to reverse the ban once there was a bylaw in place.

Matt noted that to be ready for next town meeting all the public hearings need to be done by February or March. This will take a lot of work by and many meetings of the Board. Matt asked board members how they want to proceed.

Beth is leaning toward the full scope - commercial and premise use - knowing they would need a 2/3rds vote. She is really leaning towards going with one of the model bylaws that are available as the Board's starting point. Beth feels that it would be hard to get people to come together and create a bylaw from scratch when there are such strong feelings in town. Therefore if you use a model bylaw it gives you a starting point. Doug concurs with Beth - you have to start somewhere so start with one of the model bylaws and see how it fits into our bylaw. John Wheeler said that makes sense. Matt said there are several available including on from Berkshire Regional and one from the state. John said it makes sense to not start from the beginning. John asked if these models deal with both commercial and premise use. Doug noted the models deal with both.

Matt said it will be up to the board on how the new bylaws are presented to the town. Matt said we will also be holding public meetings and hearings on this. First we have to deal with deciding what we want to work on and later deal with how to present it at public hearings and to Town Meeting. Matt noted we have to have a premise use bylaw to address the moratorium. Beth asked if any changes to our bylaws will require a 2/3rds vote and Matt said yes. Chuck noted that he is recused from this part of the discussion but noted that he has samples of two small scale wind energy bylaws that the board could consider.

John liked the idea of using a template and getting input. John said he would try to get information from the Ashfield committee. Matt noted that you can find many of these reports online. As part of the Technical Assistance Grant process we were going to identify a template to use. Matt suggested that we review all the bylaws we have, and discuss which ones we like. Then if we get a consultant we will be ready to start working with them. We have to get moving on this. Matt suggested the Board should look at both Commercial and Premise Use as we go forward, but we may just focus on premise use since there is only so much time before town meeting.

Matt moved that the Planning Board will move forward in developing a premises use bylaw and commercial/industrial bylaw in anticipation for annual town meeting in May of 2013. Beth seconded. 
Motion was passed by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 abstention by Chuck.

Matt noted he presented this motion as a general starting point. Matt suggested that the Technical Assistance Grant RFP should focus on making sure the Board has the right template to start with, post and hold the necessary meetings, and get the experts needed for advice. The technical assistant grant would provide the Board with the person to help them find the specific expertise needed - it is to help the town develop the bylaw - not write the bylaw for the Town. The consensus of the board was to proceed with the FRCOG on a revised RFP as described by Matt.

Beth asked that since the town wanted premise use, is it appropriate to talk to Tyler Studds again of Mass DOER. Matt noted that Tyler's letter had said that they didn't want to set up experts to come in to help and then fail. Matt said that if the Board wants, he will be happy to reach back out to Tyler for help and possibly some financial assistance. The consensus was for Matt to reach back out to him.

Matt wants to have a more thorough discussion at our meeting in two weeks, as to whether the Planning Board wants to set up some kind of energy advisory committee or to just have the Board work on the bylaw. Does the board think it would be good to have a sub group to work on it and advise the Board? The Planning Board would make the final decision as to what goes before Town Meeting. If so, what would be the process to pick people to serve on that board. Not a decision for tonight, but something for this board to think about before our next meeting. This is going to take a very big effort to meet that deadline--would a committee or sub-committee help us meet that deadline.

Doug noted that sometimes you can open up a hornets nest and get too much input. John asked if there was a way to find out if there is interest. Doug noted it would have to be a balanced committee representing both sides. Matt noted it would have to be manageable. Maybe ask people to submit letters of interest and abilities. Matt wants the board to determine if an advisory committee would be helpful now before we get started. Beth noted there is a lot of information already out there, so that is why she is recommending we start with a template and review the existing research. The Board can tweak it, can develop a bylaw and have it ready for Town Meeting. There was a discussion as to whether the science developed to date is enough on which to make an informed decision. Matt said there may be areas where we want help. The role of the consultant could be to find the experts to talk to on big issues. John noted that people who would be interested in serving on a sub-committee or advisory group are probably the ones who would show up with comments at town meeting -- so maybe involve them earlier in the process.

d. Discussion regarding Proposed Subdivision Rules & Regulations:

[Chuck noted that he is recused from this discussion.] 
In 2006 the Planning Board worked with the FRCOG to develop Subdivision Regulations. Doug and Chuck both have copies of drafts that were developed at that time. However, these regulations were not voted on in 2008 when the use chart was voted on. Matt noted that it includes a lot of technical standards that not everyone on the board feels comfortable about. Beth said that a lot of this draft regulation was in compliance with Mass State Law. The FRCOG was paid through a grant to help develop it but that was in 2006. Doug has a copy dated 12/17/06 which is the most recent draft labeled #5. It was suggested that Liz look for a disc in the files in hopes of finding a digital version so that everyone can be working on the same version and to get one to John Wheeler.

Liz was asked to contact Peggy Sloan, at the FRCOG, to see if she has any recommendations on other examples from nearby towns that recently completed revisions to their regulations and ones that may be good examples. Liz mentioned a report written in 2009 by Don Schmidt, a lawyer for the MA Dept of Housing and Community Development which describes all the case law relative to implementation of the Subdivision Law over many years. Liz will email the weblink to all board members.

Matt suggested finding a few local people experienced in working with subdivisions, but ones without a conflict of interest, and asking them to review the draft and give the Board feedback. Maybe ask the Selectboard and the ZBA for ideas on who they could recommend. Liz was asked to send an email to all the other boards that the Planning Board is looking for recommendations for individuals who might be able to assist as "experts" as we review our draft subdivision regulations. After they respond to the email, Matt and Liz will pull together a list of names.


a. Committee Updates 
Open space - Doug reported that they are still working on the Community Preservation Act. They were asked by the Selectboard to look into it. The CPA is a surtax on property taxes that would be used to purchase open space and to do programs not directly related to other town responsibilities - roof for the library, community garden, matching money for APRs -- but it could not be used for the general expenses of the town. Open Space is also looking into trail signage. Chuck noted in the past the Planning Board had decided not to get involved with the CPA.

County Planning Board - Chuck said that at the last meeting the transportation and GIS staff talked about changes to the Transportation Improvement Plan and the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy was distributed which includes lots of statistics by towns. Tyler Studds also spoke and noted that he is looking to identify communities' specific concerns about wind energy facilities. Liz was asked to forward the online link to the FRCOG Economic Development Strategy to board members.

b. Discuss/organize for joint meeting with ZBA in September 
Matt reminded the Board we are going to meet with the ZBA to go over tweaks that they would like on the bylaw, including the use chart. Matt asked Liz to coordinate a date for the meeting with the ZBA. At each meeting until September, the Board needs to review what tweaks, clarifications or deletions are of interest to our Board. Liz will get from the Town Clerk a copy of the language of the bylaw amendments that was submitted to the Attorney General's office after town meeting.

Matt noted that Whit Sanford has offered to help spearhead a planning committee for the town that would look at energy sustainable. This committee would make recommendations to the Town regarding issues that different boards may want to consider. Liz will forward the email to Board members. Matt would like thoughts of board and will add this to the Agenda for our next meeting. This advisory group would be independent of the Planning Board.

READ THE MAIL: mail received since our last meeting was read by board members.

Beth Simmonds had to leave at 8:38pm.

Cameron Graves asked a question about the title of the document by Don Schmidt about the Subdivision Control Law.

Deb Andrews noted that she was going to miss having Chuck's comments and asked if he would feel comfortable sitting out in the audience and participating. Chick said he was still wrestling with the issues of conflict as defined as state law. It's an issue of "influence" and Chuck feels it is a delicate situation.

Deb Andrews reminded the board that she had sent them a document about the Rennsalear wind energy advisory study committee. It includes the direction giving to the advisory committee in order to get organized. In Heath when they had a moratorium, the selectman asked who would like to be involved and 12 people said they would like to and that is their committee.

VIII. SCHEDULE NEXT MEETING: July 11, 2012 at 7pm in Town Hall.

IX. ADJOURN: MOTION TO ADJOURN THE MEETING was made by Doug and seconded by Chuck. This motion passed by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 0 abstentions.


Respectfully submitted by,
Liz Kidder
Administrative Assistant