TOWN OF NEWFANE PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES of January 11, 2024
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Kate Gehring, Nolan Edgar, Jane Douglas, James Bressor
OTHERS PRESENT (Newfane Town Office): Mike McConnell (Windham Regional Commission)
OTHERS PRESENT (Zoom): Sue Westa (Windham Regional Commission), Angela Sanborn (Newfane Selectboard), Ann Golob (Newfane Selectboard), David Cotton (Newfane Development Review Board), Walt Dadik (Newfane Development Review Board), David Brown, Patty Johnson, Stanley Noga Jr
CALL TO ORDER
Kate called the meeting to order at 6:37 pm.
ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENDA
A motion was made by Kate and seconded by Nolan to move Old Business item A. to the top of the agenda. The motion carried unanimously by voice vote.
A motion was made by Nolan and seconded by James to approve the 12/14/23 regular meeting minutes as presented. The motion carried unanimously by voice vote.
Bylaw Modernization Grant – Windham Regional Commission Presentation of Recommendations for Housing Access:
Sue Westa (Windham Regional Commission) gave a presentation of the Windham Regional Commission’s recommendations for updating Newfane’s zoning bylaws to make it easier to build housing. Throughout the presentation Sue took questions from the Commission, other town officials and members of the public. Commissioners will review the recommendations at their next meeting. The Commission will meet with Windham Regional Commission again on February 22, 2024.
Broadband update, Deerfield Valley Communications District:
Jane gave update on recent work with the Deerfield Valley Communications Union District.
Development Review Board (DRB) update:
David Cotton and Walt Dadik reported on recent and upcoming Development Review Board business. David spoke of the need to update the Town bylaws to include short-term rentals. David expressed interest in Development Review Board involvement with the hiring of the new Town Zoning Administrator.
Report-back from Town Meetings and/or Selectboard meetings:
Newfane/Townshend/Brookline Joint Planning Commission Brainstorm – update:
Jane gave an update on her short-term rental ordinance work and research. The Legislature is still working on the issue. Jane noted that many towns have dropped their ordinances due to lack of enforcement capabilities. Jane suggests waiting to see what the State of Vermont does regarding short-term rentals. The Commission will continue researching this topic and keep the conversation going. Commissioners will consider adding short-term rentals to the Zoning Bylaw as part of the possible bylaw changes presented earlier in the meeting by the Windham Regional Commission.
Zoning Administrator position:
Kate announced that Merle Tessier will be stepping down as Newfane Zoning Administrator. The Planning Commission is responsible for recommending the next Zoning Administrator candidate to the Newfane Selectboard. Commissioners will work with Merle to find possible candidates for the position. Commissioners agree to keep the Development Review Board looped into the process.
Agenda setting for next meeting:
Commissioners discussed items to be put on the January 25, 2024, Planning Commission meeting agenda. Kate will inquire with Wannetta Powling about the Town website calendar and correct the Planning Commissions meeting information on the Town website.
Planning Commission vacancy:
Kate announced a Planning Commission seat vacancy. Kate will reach out to a couple possible candidates. Eben Viens has expressed interest in joining the Commission. Nolan will invite Eben to the January 25, 2024, regular Planning Commission meeting.
A motion was made by Jane and seconded by James to adjourn the meeting at 8:20pm.
The motion carried unanimously by voice vote.