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2006.08.23 - Planning Board Minutes
Planning Board

Meeting Minutes
August 23, 2006
Harvey Hearing Room

Chairman Dimes opened the meeting at approximately 7:30pm. The full Planning Board was in attendance: Chairman Dimes, Peter Roche, Peter Boyle, Dave Proctor and John Crosby. Also present were the members of the Town Council Sub-Committee on Economic Development: Council Vice President Russ Sanford, Councilor Richard Gill and Councilor Jim Letterie.

Chairman Dimes opened the meeting at approximately 7:40pm. At that time he introduced the members of the Planning Board, members of the Town Council Economic Development Sub-Committee, members of the Dalrymple School Re Use Committee and the Consultant on the project Ms. Judi Barrett. Mr. Dimes provided a brief overview of the purpose of the proposed legislation and the Planning Board’s deliberations to date.  Following that discussion, Mr. Dimes asked Ms. Barrett to give an overview of the Special Development Overlay District (SDOD).

Ms. Barrett explained that she has been working with the Dalrymple Reuse Committee for over 18 months.  The overlay district is one of the byproducts of her work with the Committee and was intended to provide additional regulatory flexibility for certain parcels that have been determined by the Town Council to be candidates for redevelopment.  The overlay district provides both regulatory flexibility and additional discretion to the Planning Board in reviewing and negotiating proposed improvements to certain parcels to be redeveloped.  In the event the applicant decides not to pursue their rights under the Special Development Overlay District, the applicable regulations associated with the underlying zone will remain in full force and effect.

The SDOD currently before the Planning Board includes an amendment to the Zoning Map to specify one initial site for application of the SDOD-the Dalrymple School site.  However, in the future additional parcels may be approved subject to review and recommendation by the Planning Board and approval by the Town Council.

Chairman Dimes then opened the floor to public comment.

Joe Clark asked what changes would the SDOD authorize that would not be allowable under the current zoning on the Dalrymple School site  Ms. Barrett answered that currently the area is zoned Residential A so only one or two family homes could be built on the site under current zoning regulations.  There was general consensus that this would lead to the demolition of the Dalrymple School.

Jim Cipoletta asked if there is a minimum lot size for the application of the SDOD, suggesting that the Town should avoid any implication of “spot zoning”
Ms. Barrett answered that Town’s typically don't stipulate threshold size requirements for overlay districts to provide flexibility as needs arise.  Further, the high public purpose standard language included within the legislation virtually precludes any claim of spot zoning.

Members of the general public requested guidance regarding next steps in the review and adoption of the proposed SDOD ordinance.  Ms. Barrett answered that the Planning Board will consider comments at the Public hearing and drafts a formal recommendation to the Town Council.

Following that discussion, Chairman Dimes suggested a line by line review of the ordinance and provided the audience with extra copies to facilitate discussion.  

Andrew Nielsen raised a question about the performance bond requirements for public improvements and whether these requirements are typical.  Ms. Barrett and several members of the Planning Board indicated that the intent of this section is to ensure that basic public improvements, particularly those that affect the health and safety of the public, are completed in the event the developer fails to do so.  These requirements are increasingly common in modern zoning codes.

Linda Rand asked for confirmation that the underlying regulations have not changed.  The Planning Board provided appropriate assurance that the underlying zoning regulations remain in effect in the event the applicant does not proceed under the special permit requirements set forth under the SDOD

Paul Marks, from the Dalrymple Reuse Committee indicated that one of the reasons the SDOD ordinance was developed was to provide additional permitting certainty to prospective developers of the Dalrymple School and thereby ensure that the Town secures the maximum proceeds from the sale of the building, subject to the high development standards set forth in the ordinance.

Bob Massa asked if specific developments under the current SDOD at Dalrymple, or future attempts to apply the SDOD to other sites, would require the review and approval of the Planning Board.

Ms. Barrett and the Planning Board provided assurances that first the Town would have to adopt the Overlay and then a second vote would be to apply the overlay to the Dalrymple site. Subsequent amendments to the Zoning Map, to apply the SDOD to additional sites, would be subject to the same public notice, public hearing and review by the Planning Board and Town Council.

Linda Rand asked if the standard height is 35 feet, could an applicant ask for a vertical expansion of 40 feet.  She was informed that the SDOD provided for a potential increase in building height to 40 feet, subject to review and approval by the Planning Board.

Jim Cipoletta stated he thought this process was a great step forward for both the Town and developers.  Councilor Joe Ferrino, who arrived late to the meeting and did not hear the earlier discussion, asked Ms. Barrett to explain spot zoning.

Ms. Barrett provided a brief history of the court’s rejection of “spot zoning”, indicating that a claim of spot zoning is generally raised in circumstances where the zoning for a particular parcel of land is changed to accommodate the narrow interests of a particular land owner, as opposed to the greater good.  Ms. Barrett and members of the Planning Board reiterated their confidence that the extensive public purpose language and determinations included within the proposed ordinance would insulate the Town from any allegation of spot zoning.  

Councilor Gill asked what happens if the Town Council does not adopt the SDOD, with specific reference to the Dalrymple.

Ms. Barrett answered that the property could be sold for one and two family home lots, or the building could be used as it is now or the developer could go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for variances.  She went on to say the SDOD is trying to remove redevelopment barriers and provide speed and predictability to give the developer the opportunity to make informed decisions.

Councilor Gill asked what the Planning Board envisioned for this particular site and will the Disposition documents limit what can be done.

Ms. Barrett said yes that the Disposition documents would provide for much protection and have been worked on carefully with the Dalrymple Reuse Committee.
Lee Dzedulonis questioned the height limit of forty feet, indicating her understanding of the Dalrymple School Reuse Committee to include an additional “penthouse” story atop the existing three stories, and thereby provide additional incentive for the rehabilitation of the school in lieu of demolition and new construction.  After considerable discussion, members of the Planning Board and reuse Committee indicated their support of Ms. Dzedulonis recommendation and directed Ms. Barrett to edit the proposed SDOD to allow the Planning Board, subject to design review and special permit, to allow for height limit of forty feet or one story higher than the existing structure.  Precise language to be developed by Ms. Barrett.

Chairman Dimes thanked the groups and citizens for coming and stated that points brought forward tonight will be reviewed and incorporated into the report that is presented to the Town Council. He then stated that this public hearing was closed and any further comment should be directed to the Town Council.

Meeting adjourned at approximately 9:30pm.

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