JULY 16, 2014
Chairman Jeffrey Grotsky called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Commission members David Bowering, Morgan Ellis, Robert Fordi, Jane Richman, Paul Showalter and Gil Watson, Andrew Meehan, Esquire, attorney for the Commission, Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator and Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk.
MINUTES OF PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
Mr. Grotsky asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the meeting of May 21, 2014. Mr. Fordi moved to accept the minutes as presented, was seconded by Ms. Ellis and carried unanimously.
WASHINGTON COLLEGE – ADDITION OF LOCKER ROOMS AT CASEY SWIM CENTER
Mr. Reid Raudenbush of Washington College was present for the application. He said that this addition would be 3,800 square feet on the south side of the Casey Swim Center. He said that the addition would be brick to match existing with a pre-cast band around the building. Clerestory windows would bring natural light into the locker spaces. There was a rendering of the view from inside the building. There would also be a town/lounge meeting room added to the building and a walking path to that entrance.
Mr. Raudenbush stated that the College was planning to close the pool for the month of August to clean and replace tiles, ceilings and lighting. He said that the glass would also be replaced due to clouding caused by the pool.
Mr. Raudenbush stated that this addition would have a minimal impact on the existing building. He said that there would be a waiver for storm water management as there would be less than 5,000 square feet of disturbance. He said that the building was at grade with no steps. There would be an upgrade to the front doors with a push pad when the new glass was installed.
Mr. Raudenbush stated that the College hoped to have the construction drawings by mid to late August and to begin building in the fall with the center open in spring.
Mr. de Mooy stated that any additional landscaping, pathways and lighting should be shown in the final plans at the August meeting.
Mr. Watson moved to approve preliminary site plan approval as presented for a 3,800 square foot addition to the Casey Swim Center, was seconded by Mr. Showalter and carried unanimously.
ASHLEY HERR – TACO TRUCK SITE PLAN REVIEW (DOLLAR GENERAL PARKING LOT)
Ms. Ashley Herr was present for the application.
Mr. de Mooy stated that Ms. Herr came before the Mayor and Council to discuss the possibility of running a food truck in Chestertown. The initial site considered was behind the Townsend Building and the second site was at the Dollar General parking lot.
Mr. de Mooy stated that food trucks were not defined or regulated in the zoning ordinance; the closest thing to it was the peddling and soliciting ordinance. He said that it was created to regulate the Farmer’s Market location at Fountain Square and the itinerant trucks that went street to street. He said that operating a truck like that cost $1,000.00 for a 30-day permit.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the Commission had to be sure that the location was appropriate; that the owners of the property were in agreement that the food truck activity was taking place; and, whether the activity or use was permitted. He said that when a use is not explicitly described in the zoning ordinance, it was not permitted.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the peddling and soliciting ordinance describes what a peddler, hawker, or vendor does and that description does not apply to this particular situation as she would locate the truck in a fixed location, not travel street to street.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the peddling and soliciting ordinance there is section for a $150.00 license for 30-days for selling produce and seafood (which was originally imagined for Fountain Park) and could be amended to include food trucks.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the Council gave Ms. Herr a provisional permit to operate the food truck at the Dollar General parking lot with some of the same stipulations that he outlined in his zoning opinion. He said that this was a unique situation, in that they were not discussing a building, but some of the same principles apply for site plan review, such as traffic, pedestrian safety, trash, lighting, etc.
Mr. Grotsky thanked Mr. de Mooy for helping this situation by providing solid advice to Ms. Herr and the Mayor and Council in his opinion.
Ms. Herr stated that she would like to get approval for the truck to be on different property than the Council approved. She said that Mr. Steve Meehan helped to draft a suggested amendment to the Ordinance, which she gave to Mr. de Mooy for his review.
Ms. Herr stated that she did not have her permit from the Health Department but she had a plan review scheduled for next week. She said that trash would be handled by “We’re Talking Trash” and her grease would be disposed of at Fred Wick’s campground in Rock Hall.
Ms. Herr stated that she did not want to be “pigeonholed” into one spot in case a problem would arise. She said that the owner of Ellen’s was not happy with her renting space and did not know if that location would pan out. Mr. de Mooy stated that it was not up to the owner of Ellen’s whether or not Ms. Herr could rent space in the parking lot. Ms. Herr stated that it was up to her and did not want to be in a situation where people were unhappy.
Ms. Herr stated that her new location was on Cannon Street on property that was run by Chuck Covell. Mr. de Mooy stated that the property was actually owned by Lou Grasmick, not Chuck Covell. Ms. Herr stated that she did not have written permission but she has been talking with them about that location.
Mr. Bowering asked if the business was dependent upon an ordinance that did not exist. Mr. de Mooy stated that amending the Ordinance was the next thing on the agenda. Mr. Grotsky stated that permission was granted by the Mayor and Council for Ms. Herr to move ahead at the Dollar General parking lot. He said that is what should be discussed.
Mr. de Mooy stated that if Ms. Herr wanted to proceed with the property on Cannon Street, there would have to be something in writing from the owner. The Health Department also had to sign off on a permit. He said the Commission would like to know what the truck was going to look like and what signage was proposed.
Mr. Grotsky stated that the Commission had a zoning framework from which to work. Ms. Ellis stated that typically food trucks are not permanent structures and said this seemed to be a bit of “slippery slope”. She asked if this should be reviewed as a permanent structure with outdoor seating and/or takeaway.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the Mayor and Council approved this for a specific location and it was up to the Planning Commission to review what was proposed in terms of the hours of operation, where it was sited, how close it was to sidewalks and the entrance to the parking lot, how pedestrians got there, etc. He said that right now though, it sounded like Ms. Herr’s plans changed and she does not have the information for review.
Ms. Herr stated that she would like to amend the law that did not allow food trucks because she was not happy with what she got. Mr. Grotsky stated that the Planning Commission was charged with a specific site and the site changed, so this was a moot point and should go back to the Mayor and Council. Ms. Herr stated that the Commission could review that site, but she was hoping that the Commission would review the site for Cannon Street. Ms. Herr stated that she was “shut down” at the Mayor and Council meeting, so it was frustrating that it was being sent back. Mr. Grotsky stated that if this was going to move forward, it was going to move forward at the Dollar General location.
Mr. de Mooy stated that after this specific application, the Commission was going to review the Peddling & Soliciting Ordinance in general to look at how food trucks could be regulated. He said that documentation had to be in order before anything could move forward as he outlined in his zoning opinion. He said that every applicant is required to supply specific documents and they were not here.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the Mayor and Council should be contacted to see if they want to amend their permission to include the Cannon Street site.
Mr. Watson stated that he would like to move forward with the Dollar General location contingent on receipt of the appropriate permits. Ms. Herr stated that she could make that happen but it was unfortunate that she was being forced into a situation that could potentially be bad for her. Mr. de Mooy stated that the Commission was not doing that.
Ms. Ellis asked what the specifics were from the Council. Ms. Mulligan stated that she attended the Mayor and Council meeting and her interpretation was that the Council was trying to allow Ms. Herr to move forward as soon as she received her licensing, on a monthly basis at the C-1 location because of the ease of traffic flow. The C-2 location that was proposed did not have all the approvals necessary. This would then allow the time to modify the Ordinance if that was what the Commission wanted. Ms. Herr stated that she had a written lease for the C-2 location and it was rejected, so she put the C-1 in as a counter offer. Mr. de Mooy stated that, in his opinion, C-2 does not have parking lot space that would accommodate this type of operation.
Ms. Herr stated that she seemed ill-prepared but it was because the entire project was evolving and changing. Mr. Bowering stated that the Commission could not act on assurances; they acted on facts. He said that if the paperwork was in order, he would go along with it.
Ms. Richman stated that there had to be a detailed site plan to review. Mr. de Mooy stated that the Cannon Street site was a difficult site, so the site plan would have to show exactly where the truck was located because there was a lot going on in that parking lot, and some of it was town-owned.
Mr. Fordi stated that he thought there were unrealistic expectations put on the Planning Commission given Ms. Herr’s explanations. He said that if Ms. Herr did not want to go into the C-1 location, there was not much the Commission could do. He said that he did not want Ms. Herr to feel as though she was getting the “run around” because they were supportive of the idea, but there were specific things that the Planning Commission had to look at and until she knew where she was going, the project could not be supported.
Ms. Herr stated that she was happy to go into the C-1 District; she was just hoping that the Commission would allow her to go to Cannon Street. She said that she wanted to move forward with the provisional permit granted by the Mayor and Council.
Mr. Watson stated that this should be treated as a concept plan only because there was no site plan. He said that all of the documentation and site plan had to be in order, and then it could be approved. He said that there was nothing before them to approve at this meeting. Mr. Watson stated that he would like to see the project happen, but they had no information. Ms. Herr stated that she would have all of her information ready for the record this week.
Mr. de Mooy stated that most of the Commission was in favor of the concept of the food truck under appropriate conditions. The material had to be presented, including permission of the owner, the location on a map, signs, and everything else that was outlined in the email. Mr. de Mooy stated that he would get a more definitive answer from the answer regarding C-1 and C-2 and if they were amenable to a new location.
Mr. Grotsky stated that the Commission had to have a site plan for the Commission to review and this would be addressed at the next meeting.
FOOD TRUCK ENABLING ORDINANCE REVISIONS DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Mr. de Mooy stated that the Commission was asked to review what zoning districts food trucks would work in and to come up with what was acceptable for site plan review given the mobile nature of the food truck.
Mr. Grotsky stated that the Commission should think about whether they want to have “permanent” places for food trucks. He said that he thought they should be more liberal on where they could be located. Mr. Watson agreed, noting that food trucks were very popular. Ms. Ellis stated that properly located, food trucks could be a nice addition to the Town, providing a variety of food opportunities.
Mr. Bowering asked if other businesses in the area should be asked how they felt about food trucks being allowed in Town. Mr. de Mooy stated that this exercise may lead to an amendment that would grant provisional licenses for food trucks, which would face public opinion. Mr. de Mooy stated that at comprehensive rezoning this could be incorporated into the appropriate districts if it was decided that they were acceptable. He said that the approvals would be month to month until permanent changes were made.
Mr. Fordi asked if the Commission was going about this the right way. He said that in allowing a food truck to be in a permanent space there may be unintended consequences. However, if the Council designated certain areas that she could take the truck it might be a better way to approach it. Mr. de Mooy stated that there were so many things to consider, the approach for a fixed location was an easy fix until other locations could be entertained.
Mr. Fordi stated that he thought a license to travel between approved locations would be better for a food truck. He said that if a truck became a nuisance the dispute would be with the landlord not the truck owner if the location was fixed. Mr. de Mooy stated that was why the Council wanted to allow the truck provisionally. Ms. Herr stated that she suggested locating the truck on private property as an alternative to the 30-day peddling license, which carried a fee of $1,000.00.
Mr. de Mooy asked if the Commission thought C-1 was an appropriate location. Mr. Grotsky stated that he did not think it should be restricted to C-1. He suggested paralleling the food truck operation to that of a building in the way of site plan, including what zones they should be included, licensure, color and design, and including public property as an option for location. Mr. de Mooy stated that he would begin to draft a document for food trucks.
Mr. Grotsky stated that on Wednesday, August 20th at 6:30 p.m. there would be a joint meeting with the Historic District Commission to hear from anyone who wanted to present their issues with signage in C-2. He said that the Mayor and Council requested the meeting. The regular Planning Commission meeting would take place at 7:30 p.m.
Mr. Grotsky stated that he thought ground rules should be set before the workshop session to add structure to the meeting.
Mr. Grotsky stated that the Commission was set to receive comments by September 17, 2014 and the Comprehensive Plan will be submitted to the Mayor and Council by mid-October. Mr. Bowering asked who comments should be sent to before the public hearing. Ms. Mulligan stated that if the comments were in writing they could be sent to either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Grotsky stated that written comment did not have to be read into the record during the meeting, just submitted for the record.
There being no further business, Mr. Watson moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:05 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Showalter and carried unanimously.