Upcoming Meetings

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

Planning Board -- Meeting Minutes -- July 11, 2012

A duly posted meeting of the Shelburne Planning Board was held in the Memorial Hall meeting room on July 11, 2012.

Present: Chair: Matt Marchese, Beth Simmonds, Doug Finn, John Wheeler
Absent: Chuck Washer
Audience: Mike Perry, Robert Jaros, Judy Truesdell, Deborah Andrew, Richard J. Ormond, Phyllis Ormond, Tom Miner, Whit Sanford, Bard Perry, Ed Blatchford
Press: Diane Broncacio, Recorder

Meeting Called to Order: 7:07pm. Mike Perry indicated that he is taping the meeting. Matt reminded the audience to please sign in and that anyone who wants to tape the meeting should ask permission of the Chair before the meeting is called to order.

Approval of minutes of the meeting of June 27, 2012: Motion to approve the minutes as received was made by Doug Finn and seconded by John Wheeler. Matt Marchese noted that the minutes were extremely detailed and excellent minutes and that he appreciated getting them early enough to read before the meeting.
Vote: 4 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions.

Update FRCOG RFP for technical assistance in developing a Wind Turbine Bylaw: Matt spoke with Peggy Sloan and she is in the process of discussions with the FRCOG Procurement Officer about the prospect of minimizing the scope of the previous RFP and getting a determination as to whether we have to reissue the RFP. There is a party who has expressed interest but didn't submit a proposal. Matt told Peggy we would want wind power templates identified and reviewed, a good working draft and hopefully one or two public meetings for comments on that draft by the end of the year. Peggy told him there was clear feedback the original RFP had too much content for the $5000 budget. Peggy is hoping to have a decision from her procurement officer by the end of this month. Matt is hoping that as soon as that happens we could have a firm in here making a presentation at our next meeting. If it has to be fully rewritten then it restarts the whole procurement process. The grant money is only good through Dec. 31st. Our hope is now to get 2 or three drafts by the end of the year with a couple of public meetings for input and then the board can finish a final draft wind power bylaw for either this spring or a later Town Meeting.

Beth asked about the potential for additional funding from Clean Energy. Matt said that he hadn't been able to talk to our contact there because he is on vacation and after rereading the last email, he'd be quite surprised to get any money from them

Matt noted that we did receive emails from concerned citizens and he would at this time like to read them into the record:

  • Letter from Ray Hartman dated June 28, 2012 re: Planning Board Meeting of 6-27-2012, and attachments that Ray had passed on via email.
  • Email from Judy Truesdell dated July 3, 2012
  • Letter from Kevin Parsons dated July 20, 2012, with attachments that include discussions with others.
    Matt asked for response to the letters.

Doug noted that in the meetings they had before Town Meeting there were a lot of people more concerned about the particular project rather than commercial wind power in general. Doug thought that there were people asking the board to consider all types of wind power and at Town Meeting were voting against a specific project not wind power in general. John Wheeler said that while he is new to the Board he had attended other meetings and had thought that the Town Meeting vote was pretty emphatic about the votes being against commercial wind. Since we don't really have a lot of time, John feels it's probably better to spend the Boards time looking at premises use.

Matt stated he appreciated the feedback from the citizens but he takes exception to some of the personal comments in Mr. Hartman's letter which he considers unfortunate and he wants that on the record. This board has never had a meeting on commercial or small scale wind. He appreciates that a group of people in town have worked on it but it has never been discussed before this Board. What Matt heard at town meeting is there are people in town who may be receptive to commercial wind under appropriate conditions. He felt that it was very clear at the last meeting of this Board there was an urgency to prepare a premises use bylaw but at the same time there are similarities between the two and therefore it makes sense to look at them in tandem. The planning board passed a motion to look at both as a starting point with the priority focus on premises use/small scale. Matt noted the Board is charged with representing all the people of Shelburne. As a Board we have worked hard to be as open as possible and try to work in the best interests of the Town. He remembers that some people at Town Meeting where upset with the actions of the proponent and therefore decided to vote against that project. Matt reminded everyone that this board cannot develop a bylaw that will become law without a full vote of town meeting.

Matt noted there is a group that has done extensive research and appreciates their sharing it with the Board. But this town has not taken up wind in a public way. While some people feel the Board is wasting their time, Matt feels there needs to be a public discussion based upon a full review of the information available on wind power. Matt wants to have that conversation. He is committed to this process focusing on premises use but if we can have discussions about where commercial wind might work in town, with the proper setbacks-- that public discussion should have the opportunity to take place. He remembers people talking at town hall about wanting to have this discussion. He feels the planning board is responsive to everyone not just those who have already reached their conclusions. We may get to the end of the process and not have any bylaws passed, but the discussion will have taken place and it will result in a vote of the full town. Matt noted that we have a motion to look at both as a starting point but we can change that at any time as a board.

Furthermore Matt feels the tone of civility is important even in letters. He encouraged everyone to maintain an openness and respect for each other. Beth noted that she felt there was a lot of misrepresentation of what she said at our last meeting which she resented. She was trying to point out questions about whether the science and technology are accurate. She is very concerned that poorly built and constructed equipment is going to be a problem. We need to figure out which technologies are working and which aren't working. She would like to see the next vote at Town Meeting be based on reasoned consideration. John said he understands where the rest of the board is coming from he is just concerned that we have too much on our plates to be ready for next town meeting. Matt estimated that we would know that within 2 months after working with the FRCOG.

Discuss next steps for Wind Turbine Bylaw
Advisory committee: the Board discussed the possibility and purpose of setting up an advisory group to assist them as they proceed with a review of wind power bylaw options for the Town. Matt suggested an advisory committee could be a group to research specific issues as requested--a group to look at the facts and identify the pros and cons for the Board's consideration. Matt noted there will be opportunities for the Board to hear from the public, hopefully earlier rather than later, so the Board is not headed down a road that doesn't make sense. The composition of an advisory group could include representatives from both other boards, town offices and individuals with specific areas of expertise. Matt said that he would follow up with Peggy Sloan and let her know that the consensus of the Board was to set up an advisory group with specific areas of expertise, to be defined later, so that can be included early in the process with a consultant.

Meeting schedule: Matt suggested the Board may need to meet every two to three weeks once we get the consultant. The Board wants to get the work done but not be rushed and Matt is willing to go to Town Meeting and ask for an extension if needed. John suggested we check with Town Counsel on how long the moratorium could be and still be acceptable to the Attorney General's office.

Development of a premises use bylaw: The board agreed to have an August meeting to work on premises use bylaw. Premises use is really about the use of wind power primarily on an individual property. Matt said that the town meeting had used the term premises use so we are going to be looking at small scale bylaws as examples. Matt noted that he thinks the ZBA would like the best/most clear guidance possible for the special permit process.

Update/discuss status of draft Subdivision Rules & Regulations for the Town of Shelburne: Liz gave the Board a brief history based upon a review of meeting minutes from 2006. The current Final Draft #5 was developed with the help of the FRCOG and had received a detailed review by Town Counsel. The Board had looked at examples of subdivision regulations from the Towns of Leyden, Whately, and Colrain and had used Colrain's as their template. Liz had emailed each of them a document from the Highlands/TTOR that was designed to help Boards understand the design guidelines used in such regulations. Matt would still like to have someone with appropriate expertise review them and help give us some feedback. Matt will call DHCD see if there have been any major changes since 2006 to subdivision control case law.

Motion: Matt made a motion that we make a recommendation to solicit assistance from the Board of Selectmen to procure assistance in reviewing the final draft of the Subdivision regulations preferably free of charge and make recommendations thereto. Motion was seconded by Doug.
Beth said she felt it was important to check to see if there are substantive changes in the case law since 2006. 
The Motion passed by a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstentions.

Organize for joint meeting with ZBA: For our next meeting, Matt asked Board members to please bring a list of any areas of the current zoning bylaws that you feel warrant review - what are they and why. Matt is putting on solar, driveways, and the extensive use chart for which there are very few criteria. Everyone should send ideas to our email and Liz will put together a list so we can start prioritizing and discussing it at our next meeting. Matt would like Liz to merge the ZBA and the planning board lists before the September meeting. The tentative date for this joint meeting is Thursday, Sept. 13th.

Committee Updates:
FRCOG Planning Board: Our representative is absent this evening.
Open Space: Doug didn't make the meeting this last month. Doug said he would get copies of minutes and report to the board at the next meeting.

Planning Proposal by Whit Sanford: Matt read Whit's email into the record. An excerpt from her proposal includes the following (her full letter is attached to these minutes:)

  • "Establish a committee to develop a Town/Bi-Town Master Plan;
  • Establish a Town Energy Committee to complement the efforts of the PB in developing an energy bylaw by working with residents to discuss the development of renewable energy facilities in Town; research the pros and cons of commercial energy facilities (impacts on our health, environment, property values, economy, and scenery): develop criteria for and identify possible sites for commercial wind and solar farms; and insure Shelburne's energy future by creating a plan for renewable energy development in Town;
  • Work with the Select Board and PB to establish a Capital Improvements Committee to think through the needs and costs of all Town buildings and infrastructure."

Matt thanked Whit who is in the audience. It was decided that Whit would be on the agenda for a future Board meeting where we could schedule about 15 minutes for further discussion. Matt will touch base with the Selectboard to see what action they are considering regarding this proposal and to let them know that Whit will be on the Planning Board's agenda, probably in September. John remembers that the Selectboard had conducted an energy audit for the Town that may include useful information for this group.

Records Retention and records requests: Matt read into the record a July 3rd email from Judy Truesdell regarding access to documents discussed during Board meetings. Liz said that she will get copies of the documents to the Town Clerk when she returns from vacation so there can be public access to them. If anyone wants copies, we will follow the town policy as to any charges. In addition, Liz will email a digital file of the draft #5 subdivision regulations to the Town webmaster so that they can be accessed online for those who have high-speed internet. Matt said that if we get a lot of requests for documents that Liz should send a memo out to all the board members and they will come in and help.


The board members read mail received since the last meeting: several notices of public hearings in neighboring towns and a request by a researcher for information on any solar projects in town. The reading of mail will be added to our agenda for next month.

Public Comments
Mike Perry, Patten Rd. in Shelburne. In regards to the various committees that are being proposed, he feels it is important that they represent a balance of viewpoints. He noted he would be interested in serving on the energy committee recognizing that he firmly believes Commercial Wind Power should not be built near residences. Matt stated he found it disconcerting to think that people would think that he wouldn't organize a balanced committee.

Mike said he felt that there ware hours and hours of public discussion on wind in several different meetings in Town. Matt clarified that the Planning Board has not had a chance, through a public process, to have a thorough discussion about wind. He felt there hasn't been an opportunity for this Board to walk through a bylaw and talk about each aspect of a bylaw.

Whit noted one of the reasons that she is recommending a long range planning energy committee -l is to have discourse that is even handed, neutral, and balanced. The idea is to bring people together without divisiveness, without a specific proposal before the Town.

Tom Miner said the Planning Board is not working in a vacuum. The state has a new bill to set up a committee to look at wind. There are other proposals relating to Siting Reform proposals that could override anything an individual community has done. If the board doesn't proceed in good faith, then the state may come in and override local zoning. He is a member of the Franklin Regional Planning Board which has been looking into this.

Bob Jaros said it is important to come up with some very good and well thought out setbacks, and other criteria, in a setting where can we get together and agree on what is safe and good for the community. With those criteria we can go to the state with a lot more to stand on if there is an appeal.

Matt noted one effort is strategic long term needs on energy and one is the short term need to address the Wind Turbine Moratorium.

Whit asked about the initial RFP, Matt said the feedback was that the initial RFP would have cost $10-15,000. Whit said she used to do development work and she may be able to help the Board find grant money.

Deborah Andrews noted that the Northeast Kingdom Regional Planning just requested a 3 year moratorium on wind. Deb also read a letter to be included in the records which is attached in full to these minutes.

Next meeting: Wednesday, August 8th --this is dependent upon Peggy Sloan's schedule and the FRCOG RFP.

Adjournment: Motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Doug and seconded by John.
The vote was 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 0 abstentions.

Meeting was adjourned at: 9:25pm

Respectfully submitted by,

Liz Kidder
Administrative Assistant