Planning Commission DRAFT Minutes
Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 6:30 p.m.
236 School Rd, Guilford VT
Planning Commission members attending: Julie Holland, Charles Light, Michael Szostak, Jeannette Tokarz, Jethro Eaton Zon Eastes (Selectboard liaison)
Call to Order. The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m.
Recognition of the Public: Dolores Clark, Bill Jewell (Conservation Commission liaison)
Rules and Procedures: No changes. Follow Roberts Rules and basic respect and civility
Changes to Agenda. None
Approval of Minutes: Michael Szostak moved to approve the minutes from the September 6, 2022 meeting and Charles Light seconded. The motion was carried unanimously.
FYI Discussion on the Guilford Community Church Act 250 filing re their proposal for a pavilion and other amendments and changes to their original Act 250 filing from when they moved the church and re various water issues. The notification was meant as a heads up and no review will be required until it is formally submitted for Act 250 approval.
FYI Discussion of : Municipal Planning Grant opportunities Bylaw Modernization Grants and Municipal Planning Grants. State priorities for grants include equity and housing. Zon spoke about a recent meeting on housing with other Windham County towns to discuss possible joint efforts. Bill spoke about sewer and waste water issues as well as the need for low income housing. Dolores asked if we will be guiding these housing priorities or promoting them.
FYI Discussion of: Downtown and Village Center Tax Credits. Commission discussed the best way to disseminate this information to the public and possibly interested institutions in town. The money cannot be used for town buildings.
Missed Reformer deadline for warning on public meeting re town plan updates and changes. Those changes to the TP concerned updating maps, and changes to history tax abatement sections and changing the language in the waste water portion. A public hearing will be scheduled for November.
There have been eleven emails responding to the RFP proposal for a consultant. One actual bid has come in. RFP was distributed as per WRC recommendations and we have encouraged local planners and companies with experience and expertise with rural Vermont towns to apply. Dolores asked: why do we need this consultant, where is the money coming from and is there a cap on the spending?
Jeannette talked about need for a strategic plan as a vision for the town in broad terms, but a consultant will help make it happen. Planning Commission and Town Plan provide guidance, but a consultant will help us identify priorities and implement solutions. Other reasons for hiring a consultant were: the lack of expertise in planning on the Planning Commission; good to have outside perspective, especially from someone who has experience and skill in working with small, rural, Vermont communities; an ability to leverage an initial investment of $25-$40,000 into much larger grants to implement the projects that are identified as priorities to the town; in short, not having to reinvent the wheel. The most likely source of money to fund this position would be ARPA funds.
The group also discussed the qualities we wanted in a consultant:
- Local experience and references from towns like Guilford
- Competent communication skills
- Familiarity with state, private and federal resources
The deadline for response to the RFP is 10/31/22. We all agreed that we should feel free to reject all of the RFP respondents if none seemed appropriate.
It was noted that it is the one year anniversary of the present Commission membership. The group discussed immediate goals and issues: hiring a consultant; working on Local Hazard Mitigation Plan; budget due on 11/18; the need for members to renew membership on a three year basis as we are now properly aligned so changes in the Commissioners does not all happen at once; whether to expand Commission members. By law, the size can range from 3-9.
Bill spoke about work the CC did for town plan. It was agreed that the CC section was well put together and something of a model that the entire Town Plan should emulate. Discussion about how to do this included: Expand, reformat and unify sections so that the TP works better as a whole and is more cohesive; change goals and actions where they sometimes don’t mesh; add more about the creative and art sector and beef up the historical section; and prioritize 3-5 items in the TP to implement.
This lead to a discussion of the limited authority of the Planning Commission, that can only can only influence policy in town through the agency and within the confines of Act 250, because Guilford lacks zoning or any effective land use planning and enforcement provisions. Perhaps a solution might be to develop a land use ordinance that a majority of the town would support instead of exploring a more ambitious land use program at this time.
Mike motioned to adjourn the meeting, Jethro seconded and it carried unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 7:42pm.
Next Planning Commission Meeting: Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:30PM.