Not much will change with DRB job descriptions

The Selectboard met to discuss the implementation and establishment of the town’s Development Review Board (DRB) at a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 1.

After several months of discussion and debate, the Selectboard approved the formation of the DRB at their meeting on Oct. 25.

As approved by a motion at the Oct. 25 meeting, the DRB will officially start its work on December 15.

The approved motion specified that the Zoning Board of Adjustment would disband by that date and the DRB would take on all development review functions currently performed by the Planning Commission.

The motion also stated that “all land use review matters presently pending before the Planning Commission shall be completed.”

The approved motion was not available on the town’s official website until after the Oct. 25 meeting concluded.

“This is a discussion on how we go from where we are now and where we are going to end up in another six weeks,” Selectboard Chair James Faulkner said at the start of the meeting.

Faulkner said that he, along with Town Administrator Dean Bloch and Selectboard member  Louise McCarren, met with employees in the town’s planning department to discuss the DRB.

“The important stuff that we talked about is how it affects their job descriptions,” Faulkner said. “The reality is that there are not a lot of changes, but there will be a few changes.”

Faulkner reminded the board that upon implementation of the DRB “the Zoning Board no longer exists. All the information that currently comes to them goes to the DRB, and … any new applications for the Planning Commission go to the DRB. That will change some of the responsibilities of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board.”

Bloch said ZBA/PC staff “seems to be good about the change, at least in the short term. We discussed that their jobs won’t change a lot. The Zoning Administrator will still do what she is doing, and [there will be] pretty much no change at all, except that instead of referring applications to the Zoning or Planning Commission, she will refer applications to the DRB.”

Bloch said that, down the road, Planning and Zoning Assistant Rebecca Kaplan may take on the responsibility of reviewing subdivision applications. “But right now, the staff roles are going to stay as they currently are,” Bloch said. “We are going to meet with them again in a few weeks and see if there are any other things that come up.”

Faulkner said he thought that Kaplan “will pick up a few more duties for sure,” and that Town Planner Larry Lewack “is going to have to go between the Planning Commission [and DRB] for a while and help out with administrative assistance, site plans and subdivisions. Most issues in front of the Zoning Board will go to Rebecca.”

Faulkner said the Selectboard expects to start reviewing applications to serve on the DRB during the next scheduled meeting of the Selectboard on Monday, Nov. 8.

As per the approved resolution on Oct. 25, the initial terms of the DRB will include two members for a three-year term, two members for a two-year term, one member for a four-year term, and two alternates who will each serve for one year.

During the Nov. 1 meeting, audio from Town Hall dropped out, and the board members’ discussion became inaudible at various times.

What’s left for the Planning Commission and Zoning Board
According to the town’s website, the Planning Commission is scheduled to meet on Thursday, Nov. 4, to review a preliminary plan for an existing five-lot major subdivision at 471 Fat Cow Farm Circle.

The commission is also scheduled to conduct a final plan review for a boundary adjustment for an existing two-lot farm at 138 Morningside Drive and Bingham Brook Road.

Meanwhile, the Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Nov. 10, to discuss a planning and zoning permit application by the Vermont Commons School for 75 Green Mountain Drive.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Commission are scheduled for a joint meeting. An agenda for the meeting was not available on the town’s website at press time.

After the joint meeting, the Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to have a regular meeting to review an appeal by the Charlotte Restaurant Group LLC of various zoning violations by Backyard Bistro, located at 3488 Ethan Allen Hwy.

According to the town’s meeting calendar, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Commission have other meetings scheduled. However, agendas for these December meetings were not yet posted at press time.