Wilmington looks at zoning changes


WILMINGTON -- The Planning Commission will continue to receive assistance through a municipal planning grant as it plugs along on editing various zoning documents.

The commission is currently finalizing reviews of Articles 2 and 3, Planning Commission Chairwoman Wendy Manners told the Reformer.

"We got most of the next round of changes almost ready to push forward into hearing," she said.

Those documents were previously adopted at the end of last year and were noted at the time for not having been updated in over a decade. The articles address zoning districts, descriptions, uses and regulations as well as standards and procedures for land development.

The adoption of the articles was controversial due to two former Development Review Board members and other residents’ belief that the documents were adopted in an imperfect form. Selectboard members assured them that any issues would be resolved during another public hearing in the future as board members opted for adopting the articles rather than delaying the update any longer.

After a public hearing is hosted by the commission, the updated articles will then go onto the Selectboard for another hearing. Assistance from Windham Regional Planning Commission with the zoning updates was provided through the planning grant, which is applicable for anything involving zoning and the Town Plan.

Following Article 2 and 3, the Planning Commission will next address documents regarding the historic review district. The planning grant will cover that as well as the following item; the site plan review. The grant expires in June 2015 and has already covered assistance with the sign ordinance update and waiver provision as well as administration and definitions.

The Town Plan is likely to come after review of the other documents is completed. The Town Plan must be updated by Sept. 2015.

A new municipal planning grant opportunity was recently announced and the commission expects to submit an application in an attempt to ensure upcoming revisions of the Town Plan are covered. According to Manners, a key focus of these grants offered by the state is on town plan updates.

"We have a fairly solid plan in place," she said. "The bones of it are very good. But there are some new state regulations that need to be brought in."

Manners said Monday night’s meeting involved some lively discussions regarding home occupation versus home business while the commission reviewed Article 2 and 3.

The commission also looked over Act 250 filings received by the town. Usually every month, its members check to see whether any Act 250 hearings are coming up and to see whether they’ll need to look at any conformance issues. That would mean checking the application against the Town Plan as well as the zoning bylaws. The commission is an interested party in any Act 250 hearings that involve Wilmington properties.

There were seven Act 250 items and six wastewater permits altogether.

"We didn’t find any (conformance issues)," Manners said.

On Wednesday, the Selectboard will decide whether changes made to Article 4 and 5 as well as the appendix for the zoning bylaws were sufficient. Those articles address administration and definitions.

The board already determined that changes made since the initial hearing were substantial and would require another hearing. Scheduling it will likely be the next step.

"I acted kind of as a facilitator," said Manners. "They’ll vote on using that document for their next hearing."

After meeting with the commission following the initial hearing, she had edited those articles with guidance from the Selectboard.

Currently, the commission is waiting on Town Manager Scott Murphy to set up a meeting between the Selectboard and the commission. Manners said the meeting is in order for all parties to become better educated on the changes to Hermitage Club plans.

The company is in the process of filing an Act 250 master plan that will focus on its various properties, including the Haystack ski resort, the Hermitage Club Inn and the Deerfield Valley Airport.

On Monday night, the Development Review Board closed a hearing involving the Hermitage Club’s proposal for replacing the Barnstormer lift at Haystack.


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