Ordinance Review Committee
Monday, August 13, 2018
Present: Carol Ogilvie, Charlie Sorenson, Jon Miner, Harry Wolhandler, Don Scott, Mary Ann Noyer
Absent: Lisa Anderson
Agenda –Carol added the topic of Solar Farms to the agenda, in light of Ned Hulbert’s email and the request to a resident from a solar energy firm.
Minutes of previous meeting 7/23/2018 – All voted in favor to approve.
Andrew’s Draft v. Existing Ordinances – Carol shared the summary of the comparison of existing ordinances and Andrew Maneval’s draft, noting substantive changes. (see Carol’s handout.) All agreed it was helpful to refer to Andrew’s draft for his perspective and proposed language as reference points for sections committee aims to revise and clarify.
In terms of how many amendments, or proposed changes, voters are likely to agree to consider, Carol noted that it depends on the momentum for change in any given year. She always recommends consolidating proposed changes into one question (e.g., in a given section) to reduce the number of items to vote on; in other words, so it’s an all or nothing vote on any given item. Jon recalled the frustration during the voting on the ADU amendment. Charlie recommended sharing ballot questions with voters prior to Town Meeting, and to keep in mind the other issues being voted on. The information could be made available on the website and/or a mailing and/or insert in the Town Report, so proposals can be explained and discussed.
The group discussed the desire of the PB to hold a special meeting on October 1 or 2 to discuss ordinance revision proposals and whether or not that is too tight a timeframe to present solid recommendations.Carol thinks it’s realistic to present a list of sections the committee is definitely targeting. The group generally agreed on identifying immediate and longer term goals, focusing only on the most problematic issues for this year.
Carol agreed, for the next meeting, to present specific proposed language for Article V. She will send to Charlie first for review and input. Charlie reminded everyone that the essential problem with Article V is its limited reference to nonconforming in the sense of lot size, leaving out other reasons lots are non-conforming (frontage on road and frontage on water).
Home based businesses/occupation – Charlie presented his proposed changes in the home-based business and home occupation provisions. (See handout.) He referred to Andrew’s draft as a starting point. Charlie’s concern with the current language in Article IV is that any non-residential use (or any cluster development, or multi-family use) requires site plan review by the Planning Board but the ordinances do not state when, how or the product that would result. It may make more sense to require review by the PB first to determine whether the proposal requires site review, before an applicant goes to the ZBA. He thus recommends for 4.1.10 adding Following review by the PB…, if required.
The group then discussed different examples of home-based businesses and occupations and related impacts and in which cases language is either dated or and disagreed on whether home occupations should be by right (currently allowed) or what approvals should be required. Charlie believes in a check on what the home occupation is, no matter what, meaning an application to the PB in all cases, so the PB can decide what impact, if any, on the vicinity, it would entail. Levels of review would vary depending on the nature of the occupation or business. The group also feels the definition of both classifications needs clarifying.
Following review by the PB, with the ability to establish conditions, Charlie recommends approval by the ZBA. He also recommends a written report be filed by the PB with the ZBA, possibly within 5 days, in order to keep the review process efficient.
The group discussed situations where products are offered that aren’t produced by the residents (agreeing on the recommended language change from “products produced” to “products offered” and also agreeing that the threshold for differentiating should relate to intrusiveness).
Carol noted that some towns set up different thresholds – from the home office setup to a home occupation with some coming and going of clients/employees to a home-based business with a higher level of activity. The idea was raised of requiring a permit or registration with the town for the lowest activity home occupation with any change in nature or impact of that business requiring site plan review and a special exception. Carol disagreed with requiring site plan review for home occupations as she believes adequate scrutiny is covered under the special exception criteria and that site plan review by state law is restricted to multi-family housing and not conducted when the primary use of the home is residential and the occupation is secondary and incidental to this. All agreed the goal is to leave the decision up to the PB whether or not the home occupation proposed triggers the need for site plan review.
Charlie disagreed with the idea of a permit or registration, believing it’s not too onerous for applicants to go to the PB and ZBA and also allows the boards to know exactly the nature of the business. The group then discussed further modifications to the language and the definition. Carol offered to put together some suggestions to share at the next meeting.
The group reviewed 6.1.6 and 6.1.7 and suggested removing both provisions, believing the language is potentially redundant.
* Next meeting of the committee is Tuesday, August 28th, @5:30 pm.