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February 24, 2009
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION

Public Hearing #1543
February 24, 2009

***** Draft Document - Subject to Commission Approval *****


The Meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT. by Chairman Ouellette

ESTABLISHMENT OF QUORUM:

A quorum was established as five Regular Members (Devanney, Farmer, Gowdy, Ouellette, and Thurz) were present.   All Regular Members were present; Alternate members Matthews and O’Brien were absent. The Commission currently carries one vacancy for an Alternate Member.   Chairman Ouellette noted all Regular members would sit in on all Items of Business this evening.  

Also present was Town Planner Whitten.

ADDED AGENDA  ITEMS:  

Town Planner Whitten suggested Jim Richards, Executive Director of the East Windsor Chamber of Commerce has requested an opportunity for informal discussion with the Commission regarding signage.

RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS:

Chairman Ouellette noted receipt of the following Application:

1)      Application of Mark S. Webb for Site Plan Approval to allow a contractor’s storage yard and the construction of a 1,680 square foot building at 84 Newberry Road.  [M-1 Zone; Map 16, Block 19, Lot 7].

PERFORMANCE BONDS - ACTIONS; EXTENSION; ROAD ACCEPTANCE, ETC.:

Chairman Ouellette noted receipt of the following:  1)  Memo from Town Engineer Norton noting the result of his site inspection, and recommending the Town’s acceptance of Saxton Lane subject to retention of the $15,000 Erosion and Sedimentation Bond; and 2)  Memo from Town Planner Whitten recommending approval motions based on Town Engineer Norton’s comments.

MOTION: To RELEASE the Maintenance Bond of $40,000.00 and keep the Erosion and Sedimentation Bond of $15,000.00 until such items as noted in Len Norton’s memo dated 2/13/09 are completed.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

MOTION: To RECOMMEND to the Board of Selectmen to accept Saxton Lane as a Town Road.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

BUSINESS MEETING/(1)  Request for Equivalent Use Determination (Forklift Sales & Repair):

Appearing to discuss this issue were Jay Ussery, of J. R. Russo & Associates, representing the property owner, John Burnham; Mr. Burnham was also present for the discussion.

Mr. Ussery noted the subject property is 123 South Main Street.  An Application was previously presented to the Commission for a vitamin supplement store; that tenant never moved into the property.  Mr. Burnham’s brother, James, has had a business for many years selling and repairing forklifts.   He is interested in relocating that business to 123 Main Street; he would construct a new building to the rear of the property as part of the business.  Mr. Ussery noted the property is located within the TZ-5 Zone.   A review of the Table of Uses failed to identify the sale and repair of forklifts as a permitted use.  Mr. Ussery suggested he would equate the proposed use to that of automotive sales and repair.   He noted Stanton Equipment, which sells farm equipment, is located north of this property; that use doesn’t appear in the Table of Uses either.  

Commissioner Thurz questioned if the forklifts would be located at the front of the property?  Mr. Ussery suggested the new building would be located to the rear of the property.   Town Planner Whitten clarified that when the Applicant returns to the Commission for a Site Plan Modification the Commission can then dictate where the equipment can be parked.  

Chairman Ouellette pointed out if the Commission couldn’t allow this proposal as an equivalent use the Applicant could apply for a Text Amendment.   Town Planner Whitten suggested a request for a waiver might also be appropriate.

Commissioner Devanney noted outside sales are not permitted in the TZ-5 Zone; she questioned how that would be handled with this proposed use?  Mr. Ussery noted James Burnham had previously located this business further south on Route 5, next to Xtreme Performance; he explained how Mr. Burnham handled display at that location.  Commissioner Gowdy questioned why outside display was necessary?  Town Planner Whitten suggested that would be a form advertising; Mr. Ussery suggested it would be the same as Stanton Equipment.  John Burnham suggested the point of being on Route 5 is to have visibility for the business.
Chairman Ouellette noted he didn’t oppose the proposal but questioned what other types of equipment could be argued as equivalent to this equipment - snowmobiles, power sports, backhoes?   His concern was that if the equivalent use was granted to this Applicant the Commission would have to allow a similarly equivalent use to another applicant.  Town Planner Whitten felt the closest equivalent use would be to Stanton’s equipment sales/service.  Chairman Ouellette cited his concern because the use was not permitted in the current chart.  Commission Gowdy recalled the purpose of the TZ-5 was to be a transitional zone moving properties from residential to small businesses.  He felt the Commission seated at that time took all the B-1 uses and allowed them in the TZ-5 Zone under the Special Use Permit process to give the Commission the ability to control the proposed uses and the conditions of approval.  

Commissioner Devanney cited she had little problem with this proposal because it was proposed to be in the back of the property, and this equivalent use determination is for the proposed use only - not for everyone.  Commission Gowdy felt the sales and repair of forklifts was essentially the same as sales and repair of autos.  Commissioner Farmer cited he had no problem with the proposal as it’s sale/repair of equipment.  Commissioner Thurz liked this proposal but wouldn’t like to open the door for recreational vehicles.   Town Planner Whitten indicated she didn’t see why the equipment use wasn’t listed as a permitted use, but she cautioned if the Commission did determine this proposal to be equivalent to an auto use if someone came in tomorrow and wanted to sell trucks and recreational vehicles that would open up that door.  

Discussion continued regarding the equivalent use determination.   Town Planner Whitten reviewed the previous regulations and noted that sale of trucks and farm equipment had been a permitted use in the TZ-5 Zone; she felt it would be safe to call the proposal an equivalent use based on past history.

MOTION:  That the proposed activity - Forklift Sales and Repair - is essentially equivalent to the Permitted Use (from Section 502 Permitted Uses In Business & Industrial Districts) of Automotive - Repair Establishment, and Automotive - New and Used Car Dealer in a TZ-5 Zone.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

BUSINESS MEETING/(2)  Quarry Meadows Subdivision, Public Land Acceptance - Open Space:

Town Planner Whitten reported she has investigated possible leases between the Broad Brook Angling Club and the Town.  Included in that investigation were discussions with Attorney Mark Barbieri, and Skip Kement and his attorney, and the Selectmen’s Office.  She has not been able to find any documentation of the existence of any leases.   Town Planner Whitten indicated her recommendation would be for the town to take ownership of this property and take up the issue of use by the Broad Brook Angling Club later.

Commissioner Gowdy questioned Commissioner Devanney if the Margaret Drive Subdivision has a lease to use the stream?   Commissioner Devanney suggested there is paperwork that allows the subdivision to go down to that area.  Town Planner Whitten suggested there is also one place at Hemlock Court.

MOTION: That the Planning and Zoning Commission recommends that the East Windsor Board of Selectmen accept the 15.9 acre property associated with the Quarry Meadows Subdivision, and located in Ellington, for Town Open Space.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

MOTION: To GO OUT OF ORDER to take the Added Agenda Item - Request of the East Windsor Chamber of Commerce to discuss Temporary Signage, and then return to the Posted Agenda Item - Fee Schedule.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

BUSINESS MEETING/(6)  Informal Discussion with James Richards regarding temporary signage for businesses:

Mr. Richards introduced himself as the Executive Director of the East Windsor Chamber of Commerce.   He indicated he is appearing before the Commission to discuss current sign regulations.   He noted various businessowners have contacted the Chamber because of the fines associated with illegal signs.  He suggested there are many business vacancies in town.  Businessowners consider the use of the a-frame temporary signs necessary to promote temporary sales.  

Mr. Richards indicated the Chamber considers certain areas business corridors in town; those areas would include Route 5, areas near I-91, North Road, and the Industrial Park.   They would like to be allowed to have extra temporary signage to promote businesses located along those corridors.  He indicated the Economic Development Commission (EDC) supports this concept.  Mr. Richards suggested the Chamber would not propose temporary signage for the center of Broad Brook as they are hoping to maintain a more “historic” look in that area.   Mr. Richards indicated the Chamber would like to work with the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) to modify the current regulations.   His letter of request for this discussion included a proposal based on South Windsor’s regulations, which allows temporary signs for 15 days six times per year.   Permits must be issued for the temporary signs; penalties could be imposed for not complying with the time limits, size, and consistency of appearance of signage.

Mr. Richards noted there is significant activity on Route 5 on Wednesdays which provides opportunities for other businesses. He indicated businesses provide 42% of the tax base in East Windsor.

Commissioner Gowdy questioned the availability of statistics that indicate extra signage creates more business.  Mr. Richards felt that information would be difficult to provide; businesses tell the Chamber the extra signage creates more business.   Mr. Richards indicated they are not proposing to plaster the town with signs.  Discussion continued for some time.   Various Commissioners felt allowing temporary signage would cause a proliferation of signage, and cited a concern for distraction to motorists.  The Commission, in general, indicated they sympathize with the businessowners plight.  Chairman Ouellette clarified that signage is not permitted in the road right-of-way, although that situation is presently occurring; any proposal for temporary signage would require a greater set back requirement than is now being used.  

Discussion turned to enforcement issues.  Chairman Ouellette questioned the last time the sign regulations have been changed?   Town Planner Whitten indicated it’s been at least 5 years.  Chairman Ouellette suggested what has changed is the teeth behind the enforcement of the regulations.  The Commission has not changed the rules, but now offenders are being penalized for illegal signage.   

Town Planner Whitten agreed but suggested she felt there could be a place for temporary signage.   She described regulations in Simsbury which allow temporary signage; height, size, location (back off the road and not in the right-of-way), timing, etc. can be regulated.   Not everyone in a plaza can have temporary signage at the same time.  She suggested the 15 day period six times a year as proposed by Mr. Richards is too excessive.  Town Planner Whitten noted 50+/- violation letters have been sent out currently; the next step is fine citations.  Chairman Ouellette noted public meetings were held before the Board of Selectmen passed the sign ordinances; people chose not to attend and voice opposition.  Mr. Richards suggested there are many seasonal signs used along Route 5.   One businessowner is a supporter of Little League as well as a taxpayer; now he is being told his signs are illegal.  Mr. Richards indicated the EDC is working hard to market East Windsor but the negative impression of signage would keep some businesses away.  

Commissioner Gowdy reiterated his request for information regarding statistics to support that temporary signage increases business; Mr. Richards reiterated it would be difficult to provide that information.  

Chairman Ouellette clarified that signage must be placed back from the road; signage can’t be placed on property not owned by the property owner.  There is a 100’ right-of-way on Route 5; if an a-frame sign is set that far back people won’t see it.    Mr. Richards felt the proposal in his letter was fair; he agreed there are safety issues but temporary signage would be one more way to market businesses.  He is trying to open the door for discussion.  

Chairman Ouellette indicated he has done some research on signage in surrounding towns.   He offered as an example the existence of free-standing permanent signage located outside the road right-of-way in the Buckland Hills area of Manchester.  The signs are a consistent design and are not located on the site of the business being promoted.  Chairman Ouellette indicated he will provide pictures for Town Planner Whitten; he noted he is not aware of how the regulations for such signage is written.  

Chairman Ouellette questioned what would be the additional/increased cost to the Town for monitoring temporary signage?  Mr. Richards suggested South Windsor offers a drop box for applicants to apply for permits; he felt the cost of enforcement fees should be included in the cost of the permit.  

Town Planner Whitten polled Commissioners regarding their interest in pursuing further discussion.  Chairman Ouellette requested the same statistical information as Commissioner Gowdy.  Town Planner Whitten reported there is an organization called the American Signage Association she can research but noted there as so many variables.  Commissioner Gowdy reiterated his request for statistical information.  Chairman Ouellette also requested additional information regarding the permitting process mentioned by Town Planner Whitten for the Town of Simsbury.  Commissioners Devanney, Thurz, and Farmer also expressed interest in further discussion.

MOTION: TO TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

The Commission RECESSED at 8:25 p.m. and RECONVENED at 8:30 p.m.

BUSINESS MEETING/(3)  Fee Schedule:

Town Planner Whitten provided the Commission with additional information regarding proposals for a revised fee schedule.   The information included one sheet outlining fees specific to East Windsor, while additional sheets offered fees charged in surrounding towns for comparison.  Town Planner Whitten reported the proposed fees include the cost of staff time to process applications, the additional cost of attorney review for Zone Change Applications, and the cost of outside staff for map changes.  As an example she noted Public Hearings require the publication of 2 legal notices before the Application is heard and a third legal notice reporting the decision after the conclusion of the Public Hearing.  Town Planner Whitten noted many other towns charge a basic fee, plus a square footage fee based on disturbed area/impervious coverage, and in the case of subdivisions a per/lot fee and possibly a charge for linear feet of road frontage is added to the application charge.  After-the-fact Application fees are charged when someone has already started work without the benefit of filing an application for review of that work.  She noted that while those applications don’t happen that often they are generally on commercial properties and are egregious.  The Commission felt the After-the-fact fee should be double the original fee charge.

Chairman Ouellette noted the last time the fee schedule was changed was June, 2000.    It was noted the increased fee cost is not meant to pull in extra money but is intended to cover staff time spent processing the application and staff/attorney review of site plan applications.  Town Planner Whitten noted that some application review is more intense than others; review of a site plan for a Special Use Permit in a TZ-5 Zone requires less review than a more detailed review of  numerous plans for review of Planned Residential Developments, Multi-Family Development Districts, or Active Adult Housing Developments - all of which require additional review by the Town Engineer and often the Town Attorney.  She noted earth removal/excavation permits require on-going review.  Map changes and Text Amendment Changes require another level of review.  

The Commission reviewed local fees in comparison to surrounding towns.  Discussion followed regarding options for subdivision fees.  The Commission agreed to the following:  a basic fee plus a per lot fee - possibly $75/lot for 1 to 10 lots, $125/lot for 11 to 25 lots, and $150/lot for 26 plus lots, and an additional linear foot fee of $1.50/linear foot of public new roads and $.75 per linear foot of existing public road.  Additional discussion will be scheduled for a future meeting.

BUSINESS MEETING/(4)  Correspondence:

The Commission discussed receipt of letter from Coleman Farms  Condominium Association regarding existing conditions at Coleman Farms, and seeking advisement of the submission of an application for a permit extension.

BUSINESS MEETING/(5)  Staff Comments:

*       Chairman Ouellette submitted the following research documentation regarding sidewalks:  1)  Manchester sidewalk and curb plan; 2) an article by Jim Gibbon, of UCONN; 3) information regarding sidewalk placement; 4) information from Somers regarding sidewalks; and 5) East Windsor’s ordinance for removal of snow and ice from sidewalks.  He has requested this information be reviewed and added to a future agenda for discussion.

*       Commissioner Devanney submitted for future review a recent newspaper article regarding the pollution levels of outdoor wood burning furnaces.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES/February 10, 2009:

MOTION:  To APPROVE the Minutes of Public Hearing #1542 dated February 10, 2009 as presented.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

SIGNING OF MYLARS/PLANS, MOTIONS:

*       Plans - Resubdivision of Meadowview Farms
*       Motion - East Windsor Housing  LTD, LLC                                                                                  
*       Motion - ZP Group, LLC.

ADJOURNMENT:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 9:40 p.m.

Devanney moved/Farmer seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

Respectfully submitted,
________________________________________________________________
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary, East Windsor Planning and Zoning Commission