Planning Commission considers updates to driveway standards

The Town of Charlotte, VT

The Thursday September 5 Planning Commission agenda featured only two items and four members: a sketch plan review and a discussion about updating the 1997 driveway construction standards. The commission deferred a joint discussion with the Selectboard about Act 143 and the Charlotte Land Use Regulations concerning agricultural businesses to Sept. 19 because two members of the Selectboard were not able to attend the Sept. 5 meeting, though representatives from Philo Ridge Farm did appear for the discussion and provided written input to the board before departing.

The sketch plan review was for property located at 730 Whalley Road (PC-19-140-SK Pete) owned by Theresa and Richard Pete. The Petes applied to subdivide their 16 acres into two lots, one a five-acre parcel containing an existing three-bedroom ranch. Chair Peter Joslin noted that this is the second time the landowners applied for a subdivision, after letting their previous 2017 application expire. According to the application, the owners want to sell the land to a “young couple.” After minor discussion regarding a right of way dating back to the early 1900s, the motion to close sketch plan review was unanimous.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to discussing an update of the town’s road and driveway construction standards. This agenda dovetailed into the Vermont Roads and Bridge Standards adopted by the Selectboard on August 26. According to Town Administrator Dean Bloch, in order for towns to receive federal and state grant funding, the standards must be adopted by the town. Arminius circulated a town document, titled the “1997 Recommended Standards for Development and Homes” among commission members, noting that the most recent suggested updates were from CVFRS in 2018. Chair Peter Joslin said the topic is now under discussion because “we need a broader document that speaks to road standards.” Planning Commission member Marty Illick agreed, saying, “We need one document for an applicant to review and guide road designs … but allow some flexibility for staff to make decisions.”

Selectboard Vice Chair Frank Tenney suggested incorporating a variance procedure to address possible scenarios outside the standards, which the commission took under consideration. Commission member David Kenyon expressed concern at the number of potential scenarios and CVFRS “dictating the final requirements.” Shawn Coyle agreed. In addition to asking Arminius to ask CVFRS for additional input, the commission recommended removing the word “recommended.” No motion was made, and the topic will be put on a future agenda for continued discussion.