Planning Commission schedules hearing for land use regulations per Charlotte Crossings petition

The Town of Charlotte, VT

The Thursday, March 5 Planning Commission meeting was the last for member David Kenyon while work continued on updates to the Charlotte Land Use Regulations.

The commission continued discussion on the land use regulations as they specifically relate to performance standards applied to accessory on-farm businesses (Act 143), the proposed East Charlotte Village Commercial district, and other general, suggested amendments. Those included requests by the Planning Commission to clarify the glossary definitions for required agricultural practices, shipping containers, and outdoor storage. According to meeting minutes, the commission intends to vote on the changes as “three votes in the next meeting.”

The commission heard from landowner Jason Hutchins, then motioned and approved a two-lot minor subdivision and three-lot minor subdivision amendment for property located at 328 Riverview Drive (PC-20-19-SD Hutchins).

Former member James Faulkner is now on the Selectboard, leaving two open positions on the Planning Commission.

Next Thursday, March 19 will be the public hearing to repeal a portion of the land use regulations. This hearing is the result of a petition initiated by the owners of Charlotte Crossings on Route 7, signed by five percent of registered voters and submitted to the town clerk in mid-February. It seeks to repeal Section 5.5 regarding “parking, loading and service areas.” Currently the section indicates parking shall be located on the side and rear of buildings and prohibited within the front yard setback unless there is no alternative location on the lot.

In a previous Planning Commission meeting in December, one of the owners of Charlotte Crossings presented three revised parking lot designs during a sketch plan review – one of which included parking spaces in the front of the building. According to their application (PC-19-214-SK Gemini Properties, LLC), the redesign would “allow for access of emergency vehicles to the front of building; provide a shorter, safer access route for front entry of building for all; replace the long ADA path through front yard with direct ADA access and physical ramp; and add an additional ADA parking space in front of building.”

According to the Planning Commission Reporting Form posted on the town website, the commission does not support the repeal. “The Planning Commission feels that reducing this Site Plan Review standard does not set a good precedent because any future application within the Town promoting front-yard parking design will compromise the Town’s long standing intent to maintain aesthetic character of the area, and alter it into a strip-mall style of development.” The form also cites references to the Town Plan to preserve vistas and Route 7 as a scenic travel corridor.

The hearing, intended for public comment, will begin at 8:00 p.m. It is part of the next regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting which begins at 7:00 p.m.