By Mayor Kristine Lott
At their last meeting, the Planning Commission continued their review of the Form-Based Code and how it is or is not creating the community's vision for our gateways (Main St., E. Allen, Mallets Bay Ave.) A document was created to summarize the week-long charrette process, including the public's vision, which led to the development of the Form-Based code - view it here. The commission reviewed this document at their last meeting and discussed how actual new developments have compared to that vision. A theme surfaced around new buildings needing more architectural detail to match the images in the community vision. Specifically, some of the new buildings seem too big and boxy and could use more variation in their facades. The Block was brought up as an example of a large building that works well because the long façade is broken up with inset entrances to the businesses. The building housing Pho Dang and Juniors was also a successful example because the pillars and inset seating create visual interest and work well with the streetscape.
The commission continued that discussion this month by reviewing the building form standards that relate to siting - view them here. Currently, buildings must be built at the property line/sidewalk edge however some parts of the façade may be set back up to 24 inches. Members discussed increasing the setback allowance, or even requiring that some amount of the façade must be set back. This could create space for things like outdoor seating, shrubs, bike racks, etc. Providing room for a healthy street treescape was also a consideration. Next month, the commission will continue this discussion and look at other parts of the code including façade composition, size, fenestration, etc. What do you think about new developments? Are there certain buildings you think work better than others? Please share your thoughts, questions, concerns.
The commission also heard public comment from Elaine Ezerins of the Winooski Partnership for Prevention (winooskiprevention.org) who shared information about restricting outdoor advertising in an effort to curb youth substance abuse. While there was support for reducing the amount of alcohol and tobacco ads kids see while walking to school, there was concern about being able to apply any rule fairly while ensuring that all businesses are still able to advertise their products and services. The commission wanted to learn more about other Vermont towns that have enacted restrictions before considering further. The City would also need to confirm their legal authority before taking any sort of action.
The Planning Commission meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month. These meetings are open to the public. Agendas, schedules, and other details can be found here.
Feel free to reach out with questions regarding this update: Mayor Kristine Lott – firstname.lastname@example.org