Vol. II No. 14 7/15/2021
Notes from the Planning Board (PB) July 6, Hybrid
- Bill Vogt, Chair
- Marie Raftery, Vice Chair
- Carl Sprague
- Gary Pitney
- Nancy Socha
- Kate Fletcher
- Wayne Slosek
- Jeff Lacy, consultant
Also present: Jennifer Carmichael, secretary; Others via Zoom or in the room not visible/named if they spoke.
- Jeff Lacy invited into PB meeting to respond to comments made at last meeting about NRPZ. Lacy never recommended change from density negative to density neutral and if he had been present at meeting where that was decided he would have argued against density neutral.
- Fletcher said PB never voted on that change
- Lacy said he thought Cottage Era Bylaw was working well as a subset of NHRPZ and was disappointed when PB took it out.
- Again Fletcher said PB never voted on that change either. Stated there were decisions made without input of whole PB.
- Lacy said he could only rely on what he was told by the one PB member assigned to communicate with him
- Lacy explained that NRPZ and density negative was part of a "grand bargain" wherein the developer gets "prompt and predictable permitting and a formula". In exchange the municipality gets conserved land. He reaffirmed that that NRPZ was a conservation plan not a development plan.
- Again Lacy mentioned he did not recommend lowering the percentage of conserved land.
- Responding to other concerns expressed:
- he was not concerned about competency of PB to implement. However, if PB concerned they can continue to include consultants and he has what he called "helper documents".
- Concerns about things like the waivers, transfers and density swaps did not have to be thrown out, could be altered. Also he wished PB to remember it requires a 2/3 vote (super majority) to approve and that PB could change that to consensus (whole PB to approve).
- He said the PB role could be simplified and reduced to this: PB establishes required 80% conserved land; 20% developed; where the 80% is located, and where the 20% is located. Within those parameters, the developer would be free to make other decisions.
- Slosek made the point that if the town wants the Cottages preserved, it is only fair to allow developer to make enough money to preserve and profit. Lacy seemed to say NHRPZ allowed that.
- Finally, Lacy said he calculated density of his town by dividing total acreage by number of houses. His town has one house per 12.5 acres. He imagines Stockbridge is similar and does not recommend changing that ratio with any bylaw change going forward.
- His final advice was "always permit and beware of 'by right' ". That is, put permitting processes in place and do not cede rights to owners without oversight.
- Public Hearing on Special Permit for a house at 20 Mackeenac Shores. Attorney Lori Robbins for the owners. There was conflict related to boulders placed in the lake even though they were later removed. However, some thought they were still there. Abutters had concerns about the rocks, the height of structure, and when and how long construction would go on. In the end it was approved by a vote of 6 – 1.
Editor's note: Please watch the first half of this PB meeting — the information was very enlightening and nuanced. A. About NRPZ and NHRPZ. NRPZ is Natural Resources Preservation Zoning. NRHPZ is Natural Resource and Historical Preservation Zoning. If Cottage Era Estate Bylaw included, then NRHPZ is correct. When CEE taken out then reverts to NRPZ. B. Density neutral — if NRPZ replaces 4-acre zoning, number of houses permitted remains the same; density negative, number of houses built is fewer. C. As Lacy spoke it seemed to become clear that it would have served all if consultant had met with whole PB from the start and never had a steering committee or a single member appointed to funnel communication.
D. A simple majority is not sufficient for a special permit to be approved. The vote must be at least 5-2 in favor.
Milkweed in bloom. Photo: Patrick White