A stormwater project, possible amendments to the official map, and continuation of Planned Unit Development (PUD)/subdivision/master plan revisions to the regulations kept the planning commission busy on Tuesday evening, May 28.

Following a 30-minute executive session regarding real estate transactions, the commission first heard from Emmalee Cherington of the South Burlington Stormwater Division who presented a conceptual design (phase A) to convert an existing stormwater pond to a gravel wetland at Kennedy Drive adjacent to the Treetop development on Hawthorne Circle.

South Burlington received a Vermont Agency of Transportation grant for approximately $375,000 for the design and construction of a gravel wetland. There is a required 20 percent match from the city, which is currently in the stormwater budget.

The pond treats about 3.5 acres of Kennedy Drive south of Williston Road along the intersection of Kennedy Drive and Kimball Avenue. 

“Where’s that water being treated right now?” commissioner Art Klugo asked.

“It’s not,” Cherington said. 

She said it flows directly into Potash Brook. Over 60 percent of the city is in an impaired watershed, she later confirmed; Potash Brook is one of the impaired waterways. 

The project to convert to a gravel wetland would require a wetland permit mostly for the buffer zone to delineate the system from the Class II wetland. It is also a possible archeological site, so testing will be done to see if there are any artifacts.

Cherington then showed a rendering of what the gravel wetland would look like.

“The goal is, if they’re functioning correctly, there is only standing water for a storm event, and 24 hours later, it’s drained out,” she said. “Right now, the standing water is 6-feet deep.”

A public process will proceed for the project; construction is scheduled for 2021 and should take one season to complete.

Shifting to the PUD/Subdivision/Master Plan regulation revisions, commissioners continued their discussion around consolidating underlying zoning districts. In addition to ruling out redundancies or zones that no longer make sense, the adjustments are necessary to have the districts properly line up with where different PUD types apply under the PUD project.

Relative density of development and permitted uses are key criteria being assessed in this process of establishing which PUD types should be allowed in which zoning districts in the city. 

In a memo to commissioners, staff assessed looking at zonings where maximum density can currently be increased by PUD, establish Neighborhood Commercial Districts from existing nodes establishing transect districts, reducing redundancies, and adding park districts. This assessment is still being vetted by the commission.

The commission subsequently spent time combing through river corridors, shorelands and ground water source protection areas. Staff also shared an initial review of a Conservation PUD outline but did not launch into further discussion, as it was not included in the packet for commissioners to review ahead of time.

Rounding out the evening, commissioners returned to a request from Tim McKenzie of South Burlington City Center LLC regarding a proposed amendment to the Official Map in the City Center area, specifically, to remove two segments of roadway currently shown on the map between San Remo Drive and Market Street. In its place, McKenzie intends to have stormwater improvements and wetland conservation; he’s since acquired an Army Corps and state wetlands permit.

McKenzie has since taken the route of 24 VSA 4421 for the accommodation of planned public facilities shown on the official map, staff explained in a memo to the commission. In the event the applicant does not accommodate the planned facilities, the reviewing entity is required to deny the application, which sets a 120-day period where the city council can initiate proceedings to acquire the land or an interest in the land for the planned public facility on the official map. The administrative officer denied Miscellaneous application #MS-19-02 for a stormwater facility and gravel wetland pursuant to 24 VSA 4421. Council is now considering whether to initiate the proceedings to acquire the land for the planned streets. In the scenario council does not elect to initiate the proceedings to acquire the land, it would go before the reviewing entity again without regard to the component on the official map, in this case, the streets.

“The reasons why it’s extremely unlikely that that road will ever get built is it would impact an impaired waterway, which is Potash Brook Tributary 3, it’s not economically viable.” Mackenzie explained. “It would require a bridge standing probably 80-100 feet and would require the condemnation and purchase of the Poon property, and our wetlands and stormwater permits for the development of City Center are contingent upon it getting taken off the official map.” 

As a condition of the wetland permit, Mackenzie said that they needed to create a water quality improvement feature that treats the untreated water from the north of his property.

With connectivity being a large part of Form Based Code, the commission opted to have the Form Based Code Committee assess this request and hear feedback. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the planning commission is Tuesday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at city hall.

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