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November 24, 2009 Minutes
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION

Public Hearing #1560
November 24, 2009

The Meeting was called to order at 7:04 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 four Regular Members (Devanney, Gowdy, Ouellette, and Thurz), and two Alternate Members (Mulkern and O’Brien) were present.   Regular Member Farmer and Alternate Member Matthews were absent.  Chairman Ouellette noted Alternate Member Mulkern would sit in on all Items of Business this evening.  

Guests included Selectman Simmons, and Kathy Pippin, of the Board of Finance.  Both guests left at approximately 8:15 p.m. at the cessation of discussion of the Farm Regulations.

Also present was Assistant Town Planner Newton.

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:     None.

FARM REGULATIONS - DISCUSSION/Farm Regulations - latest draft and discussion items:

Chairman Ouellette noted that Town Planner Whitten and staff and worked very hard on the farm regulations; he can only believe that the comments made by the public have been the result of people not reading the regulations.  He noted the last round of revisions made by Town Planner Whitten were much better organized with regard to structure; he felt people still don’t understand the true purpose of the Commission’s intent.  Chairman Oullette noted the proposed regulations would allow farm signage legally, which is currently not allowed, and have better defined the definition of farming under the State Statutes.  Chairman Ouellette felt no one was disputing their right-to-farm crops but with regard to animals people want to know what is being taken away from them.

Chairman Ouellette questioned Assistant Town Planner Newton if there have been many issues with regard to livestock involving larger/full farms?  Assistant Town Planner Newton replied negatively, noting most complaints received have involved horses, and chickens/roosters.  She cited a complaint from a residential area in which the owners had 4 acres but much of the area was terrace escarpment slopes with a river running behind the slopes, only a small area was available for the horses and the manure was being spread on the lawn.  

Commissioner Devanney concurred regarding the misunderstanding prevalent concerning the regulations; she noted that she had received comments from someone in the farming community that it had taken the second (workshop) meeting for them to understand that the Commission was trying to make regulations farm friendly for the farmers.    Discussion followed regarding the animosity received from the farmers.  Reasons noted range from farmers feeling that their livelihood is being taken away from them, to wanting to continue to do what they have been doing for the past 25 years, to their preference for lack of regulations.  The Commission reviewed the proposed regulations again, noting nothing is being proposed than what currently exists for the larger/full farms - with the exception of now allowing signage, which is currently illegal.  The Commission is also being proactive in soliciting input from the farmers, as many towns enact regulation changes with little public input.  

The Commission also noted the draft farm regulations were sent only to those individuals farming, therefore, only those individuals attended the workshops.   Residential/limited farmers did not appear to be in attendance, therefore, the comments received do not appear to reflect those of the limited/residential farmer.

The Commission mulled ways to present the proposed regulations in a clearer manner.  The consensus of the Commission with regard to moving forward with the proposed farm regulations is to break the current proposal into the following topics of consideration:  1)  signage, farm stores, and farm stands; and 2) limited/residential vs. larger farms producing crops or raising livestock.  The Commission noted the need to revisit the issue of involvement of kids in the 4H program.   (Rabbits have been clarified as a pet).   Chairman Oullette noted Town Planner Whitten is still soliciting input from other planning and agricultural professional sources; Assistant Town Planner Newton felt much of that discussion involved animals.  Assistant Town Planner Newton concurred that there continues to be a lack of understanding that at least half of what is contained in these proposed regulations exists in the current regulations, and, more is being given to the full-fledged farmer than is currently allowed - i.e. legal signage.  

The consensus of the Commission was to propose the farm signage first, accompanied by regulations regarding farm stores and farm stands.  The Commission felt Town Planner Whitten had suggested Glastonbury had reasonable regulations which allowed for attractive presentation of farm locations; photos are being researched for the Commission’s review.  Essentially posts can be available at intersections, with the opportunity for farmers to put up their signage.   Discussion continued regarding: available locations, including intersections and “decision points”; advertisement on private property and liabilities associated with permission,  and the need for private property owner to sign-off on sign applications; availability of  Town property for advertisement; set back distance with regard to sightline and public safety issues; consistency of size.  

MOTION: To TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.

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

The Commission RECESSED at 8:15 p.m. and RECONVENED at 8:30 p.m.

FARM REGULATIONS - DISCUSSION/Farm Regulations - latest draft and discussion items:

The Commission felt the addition of buffers provided the resident with acknowledgment of an existing farm operation, and added value to the farm property.  Discussion followed regarding: the size of buffers, should they be consistent between all property lines vs. differing sizes for different applications - i.e. a large farm using a manure application vs. animals, including pigs, horses, cows; how to manage differing buffer sizes based on use when the use subsequently changes; deed restrictions acknowledging proximity to farming locations; use of pesticides and associated concerns; set back distance via State Statutes for structures; affect of buffer on land use/value; discussion of Suffield’s and Lebanon’s regulations regarding buffers; utilization of buffers on new subdivisions and farms vs. all farms and subdivisions.

The Commission liked the utilization of a 100’ buffer in new subdivisions with the buffer going towards the open space allocation, and also including the ability to request a waiver provision.

RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS:

Chairman Ouellette acknowledged receipt of the following Application:

1)      Application of Martha O’Donnell for a1-lot subdivision and Special Use Permit to establish a rear lot on property located on the north side of Thrall Road.  [R-3 Zone; Map 36, Block 60, Lot 17].

PERFORMANCE BONDS - ACTIONS; PERMIT EXTENSIONS; ROAD ACCEPTANCE:  Metro North - Request from Mark W. Friend of Megson & Heagle (on behalf of White Diamond) for final release of the erosion control bond for the parking lot expansion at Metro North, One Corporate Road, Enfield (2.2 acres in East Windsor).  
(Tabled from previous  meeting):  

No new communication; Application remains tabled.

NEW BUSINESS:  USA Hauling & Recycling, Inc. - Site Plan Approval for a Change of Use, expansion of gravel storage area and drainage improvements at 3 & 5 Shoham Road, owned by Laird Building, LLC.  Proposed Use at 3 Shoham Road is the manufacture, maintenance and storage of empty containers.  [M-1 Zone; Map 3, Block 17, Lot S3]  (Deadline for decision 12/17/09)  TEMPORARILY ON HOLD:

Application remains on hold.

NEW BUSINESS:  USA Hauling & Recycling, Inc. - Site Plan Approval for a Change of Use, expansion of gravel storage area and drainage improvements at 3 & 5 Shoham Road, owned by Laird Building, LLC.  Proposed Use at 5 Shoham Road is a dispatch center, truck repair and parking and empty container storage.  [M-1 Zone; Map 3, Block 17, Lot S4]  (Deadline for decision 12/17/09)  TEMPORARILY ON HOLD:

Application remains on hold.

BUSINESS MEETING/(1)  Review of Bylaws:

The Commission reviewed the bylaws as revised from discussion held at the previous Meeting and considered the following additional issues:  absence of a regular member for an extended time and the affect of that absence on the Commission’s ability to conduct business; absence of a regular member during nominations for Board positions; Section 3.5 Terms of Office, delete the final sentence; Section 4.6 Adjournment, delete the last four words of Subsection (b) of that section.  

Bylaws, as revised this evening, to be considered for approval at the next Commission Meeting.

BUSINESS MEETING/(2)  Correspondence:

Chairman Ouellette noted receipt of letter from resident Scott Thomas, including cc: to the Department of Agriculture, the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, and Selectman Simmons, regarding Lebanon’s Right-to-Farm Ordinance.    The letter includes Staff comments that this suggested Right-to-Farm Ordinance is the same ordinance reviewed previously and approved by this Board; this same ordinance is now moving forward to the Board of Selectmen for consideration.

BUSINESS MEETING/(3)  Staff Reports:  None.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES/November 10, 2009:

MOTION:  To APPROVE the Minutes of Public Hearing #1559 dated November 10, 2009 amended as follows:  under FARM REGULATIONS WORKSHOP/Farm Regulations/Right to Farm Ordinance/Agriculture Buffers, Page 5, Claude _____________ has been identified as Claude MARSHALL.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/
        VOTE:   In Favor:  Devanney/Gowdy/Mulkern/Ouellette/Thurz
                         No opposition/no abstentions
                                                                                
SIGNING OF MYLARS/PLANS, MOTIONS:     None.

ADJOURNMENT:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 9:18 p.m.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/
VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous (No opposition/no abstentions)


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



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