Planning Commission – January 17, 2018

PLANNING COMMISSION

JANUARY 17, 2018

Jeffery Grotsky, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Commission members David Bowering, Darrell Craig, Robert Fordi and Paul Showalter, Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.

NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF CHAIRPERSON, CO-CHAIRPERSON AND SECRETARY

Ms. Mulligan stated that at the first meeting of the year the Commission had to nominate and appoint a slate of officers. Mr. Craig moved to keep the current slate of officers in place with Jeffery Grotsky as Chairman, Paul Showalter and Vice-Chairman and Morgan Ellis as Secretary. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bowering.  There being no other nominations, the motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES OF PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING

Mr. Grotsky asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the meeting of December 20, 2017. Mr. Showalter moved to approve the minutes as presented, was seconded by Mr. Fordi and carried unanimously.

WASHINGTON COLLEGE – 305 WASHINGTON AVENUE – SEEKING PERMISSION TO ALLOW A 3-YEAR CONDITIONAL USE AS OFFICE SPACE FOR 6 EMPLOYEES ON PROPERTY ZONED R-2

Mr. Reid Raudenbush was present on behalf of Washington College. Mr. Raudenbush stated that the Planning Commission provided a positive recommendation to the Board of Appeals for a similar application in May, but the Board ultimately denied the application in September.

Mr. Raudenbush stated that the original application was to move the Human Resources Department to 305 Washington Avenue and the Board of Appeals had objections regarding the duration of the use and the amount of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular relating to that use. Parking was also an issue.

Mr. Raudenbush stated that the current application is to house staff of the IT Department who receive no visitors. Currently, this 6-person staff is housed at 508 Washington Avenue (between Napa Auto Parts and the Bluebird Tavern).  They would move to 305 Washington Avenue and 508 Washington Avenue will be repurposed for the Art Department.  The College’s goal was to have faculty studios closer to the Art Studio on campus and the 508 Washington Avenue location does that.  He said that this request is for the same number of occupants but there would be no visitors and the space would only be used for a 3 year period.  Mr. Raudenbush stated that in the next 3 years, the College would like to build themselves out of the space problem which can be traced back to the fire which displaced staff at 515 Washington Avenue.

Mr. de Mooy asked if the College was requesting a permanent zoning change. Mr. Raudenbush stated that the request at this time was specifically for a 3 year period, but would not change the underlying zoning at 305 Washington Avenue.

Mr. Raudenbush stated that they were looking into other properties to house their employees and hoped to not use this property as office space at the end of the 3 year period. He said that if the building still required use as office space he would return to the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals to seek approval for the extension.

Mr. Showalter asked about parking. Mr. Raudenbush stated that parking at the 508 Washington Avenue location would require no changes, but the parking for 305 Washington Avenue would be located at the lot on Brown Street.  This is also where employees working out of 307 and 309 Washington Avenue currently park.  There are 2 existing parking spaces at 305 Washington Avenue which will not be utilized.  He said that the 65-space parking lot on Brown Street was marked in areas that were for staff use only, leaving the remaining parking for students.

Mr. Grotsky asked if the College has researched using space downtown for their arts program. Mr. Raudenbush stated that downtown space is leased at this time for the Center for the Environment and Society and once they relocate to the Semans-Griswold Environmental Center building, that space will become available for another possible use by the College.

Mr. Fordi asked if the College had had a dialogue with the neighbors regarding this application. Mr. Raudenbush stated that he did not.  He said that, in his opinion, the objection from neighbors at the last Board of Appeals seemed to be centered on removing the residential use from the neighborhood.  He said that he thought any objections to this application would be expressed at the Board of Appeals hearing.

Mr. Craig stated that this application differed from the original application in that it was a less intensive use and for a finite period of time.

Mr. Craig moved to send a positive recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals in support of Washington College’s request to use 305 Washington Avenue, zoned R-2, to house the IT Department of Washington College with 6 employees for a 3 year period as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Showalter and carried unanimously.

2017 BEST BUILDING AWARDS

Mr. Grotsky stated that the Commission had a chance to review last year’s projects and asked if there were nominations for a Best Building Award.

Mr. Craig stated that he would like to nominate the Sultana Building at 200 S. Cross Street for best new commercial building, noting that it was a beautiful building but was also LEED Platinum certified. Mr. Bowering seconded the nomination.  The Commission agreed that the Sultana Education Center should receive the best new commercial building award for 2017.

Mr. Grotsky stated that he would like to nominate the Jeffrey and Susan Coomer’s new house at 405C Cannon Street, which was designed by Kevin Shertz. Mr. Fordi seconded the nomination.  The Commission agreed that the Coomer Residence would be given the best new residential award for 2017.

2017 ANNUAL REPORT

Mr. Grotsky stated that the Commission received a draft of the 2017 Annual report and asked if there were any additions or corrections to the document. Mr. Fordi moved to approve the 2017 Annual Report as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Craig and carried unanimously.

There being no further business, Mr. Craig moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:00 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Showalter and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                            Jeffrey Grotsky

Stenographer                                                   Chair

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