Planning Commission Minutes                       June 23, 2009



PC MEMBERS PRESENT: G. Heyer, M Hunziker, D. Brown, R. Wimble, A. Lemieux

PUBLIC PRESENT: S. Taylor, ZA; G. Brunswick, NRPC; L. Robart; D. King; W. King; M. Ellsworth; J. Ellsworth; J. McGuinness; M. Heyer; L. Pfanstiel; P. King; J.R. Blake; J. Blake; D. Bellows; K Hebert; D. Gardell; L. Tracy; J. Crary; R. Ertl; J. Lapierre; G. Lapierre; D. Lapierre; L. Lapierre; N. Garland; J. Minor; S.J. Minor; M. Minor; R. McNall; B. Horr; M. Chicoine; J. Marriott; M.Wiener; R. Kuehn; R. Kuehn; S. Kuehn; M. O’Day; A. Woodward; D. Woodward; E. Kirkpatrick; J. Bouthillette; J. Hochberg; C. Roberts; P. Lavallee;

T. Helfrich; D. Helfrich; S. Arzen; (and a few others that did not sign in).  


7:10 PM   Greg Heyer welcomed everyone to the public forum to obtain valuable input from land owners regarding future regulations to manage development.  The focus will be on lot sizes and density.  Greta Brunswick, representative of Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC), moderated the meeting.  She started with a slide presentation focusing on: goals, potential growth, density changes, Planned Unit Developments, Maximum Density Option, and changes in district boundaries.  Two hand-outs were available:  “Issues and Opportunities” and “Proposed Changes to the Fairfax Zoning Map-June 2009”.  During this first portion of the meeting various issues were brought up including:  maintenance of open land, septic and water issues, changes to the Growth Center District, and the need to encourage commercial development. 


The second phase of the meeting consisted of six break-out groups.  Each group discussed two density options for a parcel of land. Each group was given a specific lot size to design a site plan based on two different allowable densities. A member of the Planning Commission or the Zoning Administrator was the moderator for each group. The small groups encouraged conversation from all of the participants on the important issues of density and the best way to develop land parcels. At the end of the session each group summarized their conclusions with many varied results. Some individuals preferred larger lot sizes while others did not want the density to change.


The final phase of the forum was for public comments.  Many questions and topics were brought to the attention of the Planning Commission. (Comments, not quotes, from the PC are in regular type, comments, not quotes, from the public are in italics)

            a) Why re-organize the Bylaws at all and make changes that are not needed?

                        The most recent revisions were to comply with changes to State Statute.

                        To conform to the updated Town Plan.

                        To better organize the document and make it more user friendly.

                          To consider keeping the rural feel of the Town through density changes.

                 There were requests to allow the current rules to work as is. There are many ways to restrict

                 development that are already in place such as ACT 250, Natural Resources, and recommendations of

                 Design Engineers. Changing rules is confusing and will create more problems.

            b) Why are the District Boundaries proposed to change?

                        To differentiate districts according to their intended uses and to consolidate districts with the

                            same intended uses.

                        To expand the growth center to include most areas served by the existing water and sewer lines.

                        To encourage orderly development in concentrated centers and protect the rural countryside.

                 There was discussion regarding the water and sewer infrastructure in the growth center and the

                 concern that  even though the boundaries may be expanded, the Town does not have the resources to

                 expand the needed  water  and sewer capacity. Federal stimulus money was discussed along with the

                 need for grants. It will take millions of dollars to expand the municipal sewer capacity and the

                Town water supply, and to place sidewalks in the Growth Center area.


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            c)  What is the trend for new development?

                        New home Building Permits are about half of what they were last year.

                        The number of projects brought before the DRB are down from last year.

                        There is a large inventory of homes and lots of land for sale.

                        Most new developments are in the rural areas.

                        The current economy is having a negative effect on new development.

                        Fairfax is a desirable community due to having a complete K-12  school system.

            d)  A recommendation was made to have an advisory committee formed with equal representation of

                large parcel, medium parcel and small parcel land owners.

                        The Planning Commission would consider an advisory committee.

            e)  Large Land Owners are concerned about losing their rights to their land.

                        Agriculture is suffering, and cows may be gone soon.

                        Many farms have been in the family for years.

                        It is disturbing when the Town dictates what can be done with your land.

                        Need people with good common sense who are not self-serving to be on the Boards.

                        The future is frightening.

                        Land owners should not be told what to do with their land after they have owned it for 50 years

                            or more.

                        The land is the only retirement fund many land owners have, and they have worked hard to keep

                            the value of the land.

            f)  Why is the Village Center not pedestrian accessible?

                        Lack of parking in the village lead the shopping center and post-office to move out of the

                            village center.

                        One purpose of the growth center is to encourage more businesses, but due to the lack of

                            available sewer and water capacity, new businesses have a difficult time starting up in the

                            growth center.


G. Brunswick thanked the community for their participation. 



Respectfully Submitted,

Cathy Raymond, Zoning and Planning Assistant



Approved_____________________________________ Date______________, 2009



These minutes are unofficial until approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting. 







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