Chester Select Board suggests alterations to zoning proposals

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Hugh Quinn, left, explains the intent behind the changes. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

At its Wednesday, May 3 meeting, the Chester Select Board held a hearing to review a set of amendments to the town’s zoning regulations known as Unified Development Bylaws. And while they thanked the Planning Commission for its work, in the end they sent the amendments back for several substantial changes.

Minor changes like corrections of spelling and grammar can be made by the Select Board, but substantial alterations must be returned to the Planning Commission. It will be up to the Planning Commission to decide whether what to do with the suggested changes and then hold a public hearing on them.

Arianna Knapp expresses her concern about people who can’t find housing and must live in campers

Planning Commission chair Hugh Quinn said the goal of the work was to make the process applying for zoning permits “easier and more friendly.” Quinn said the commission had elicited public comment through a community survey and that the panels decision-making process looks back to those opinions. Recently the commission’s focus has been on measures to increase the amount of housing available in Chester.

Over the next two hours, the board gave the 33 page proposal a close look, asking questions about the intent of items added to and deleted from current bylaws.

Among the items that the Select Board raised concerns about are:

  • A limitation on the use of travel or camper trailers as dwellings for more than 180 days. Board member Arianna Knapp said she understood the point of this but found it tone deaf when there’s a serious housing shortage. There was discussion of waste disposal and the commission will look at this.
  • Lee Gustafson questions the zoning difference between solar that is connected to the grid and those that are not

    An amendment to waive subdivision requirements for subsidized and non-profit housing for low and medium-income residents to permit “multiple principal structures” on one lot prompted the question of whether these developments would remain income sensitive or be sold to higher income residents after a few years.  Board and commission members agreed that the same end could be achieved by a planned unit development and that the new clause could be deleted.

  • Board members questioned the exemption from zoning regulations of photovoltaic panels that have received certificates of public good from the state of Vermont versus those that are used for off the grid electricity production. There was also a question about zoning regulations for solar panels that produce hot water.

The commission will take the suggestions back for consideration and possible alterations. They will then have a public hearing before sending the bylaws back to the Select Board for another hearing.

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  1. Geralyn Donohue says:

    The Vt state waste water department and town zoning occupancy rule for camps and temporary dwellings is no more than 60 days per year or 3 consecutive weeks ( 21 days ). I would think campers and travel trailers fall under this rule. As of 2007, Vt wastewater dept has jurisdiction over waste disposal unless public water sewer is available.