Addison sets hearing for new town plan that includes solar regs

ADDISON — Addison residents on Monday will have a chance to learn more about and weigh in on a proposed new town plan, one that Addison Planning Commission members said will allow many residents more flexibility to develop small lots and will call for limits on commercial solar arrays, especially near Lake Champlain.
The planning commission will hold a hearing on the plan at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Addison Central School.
That hearing is the first step of an adoption process that includes at least that hearing to be held by the planners and another by the Addison selectboard. If any major changes are made along the way more hearings would be necessary.
Once the plan is adopted, hopefully by the end of the year according to planning commission chairman Frank Galgano, planners will begin drawing up zoning laws that would put new provisions in the town plan into effect.  
Galgano said last fall once the town plan is in place the upcoming zoning update will also include already written sections regulating fences and creating provisions to allow residents in some cases to receive waivers from dimensional requirements, such as road and side-yard setbacks.
“I can’t make zoning changes without changing the town plan first,” he said.
Planners, with consultation from the Addison County Regional Planning Commission and the selectboard, are recommending “density bonuses” for creating home lots in some districts, most notably in what is now the town’s largest zone, the Low Density Rural Agricultural zone.
That zone now requires a 5-acre minimum for a housing lot, with substantial road frontage. The selectboard had recommended smaller minimums and frontages as a way to encourage more homes and tax revenue.
Instead, density bonuses would allow landowners or developers to create one or more smaller lots if they agree to preserve open land on a larger parcel that is being subdivided, thus both allowing more affordable lots and preserving farmland and scenery.
Galgano said the density bonuses meet both of those goals, which residents supported in a survey.
“We’re going to be presenting a density-zoning program that we think will solve that problem,” he said.
Most zones will retain their existing requirements, however.
“That’s not going to go into each and every one of the five different districts,” Galgano said.
The planning commission would have been ready to move forward earlier, he said, but its members believed they had to address a solar siting issue that has become prominent in Addison County and in Addison, especially with one proposed array in town sparking debate and a new state law regulating solar being passed this past June.
“The state has thrown us a curveball that took us way off course with the solar and wind energy stuff, so we had to deal with that,” Galgano said.
Many towns’ officials believe the process for siting arrays is tilted too heavily in favor of the Public Service Board, and Addison in July adopted an interim siting law that takes effect this week.
The proposed town plan’s provisions will allow Addison to become specific about where it prefers solar arrays and how they should be sited and screened, Galgano said.
“What we are recommending that we have for the first time, at least in the Lakeshore Residential and the Lakeshore Recreational, the two (zones) that border the lake, we at this point are not going to accept commercial solar,” Galgano said.
Residential solar arrays, such as rooftop units, would be permitted, and in some cases residential trackers units in would be acceptable, Galgano said, “but we don’t want somebody giving up 4 or 5 acres to a commercial unit.”
The regulations do not mean planners oppose solar development, he emphasized.
“We are not anti-solar. We’re not anti-alternative energy,” Galgano said. “However, we think in certain areas it’s reasonable, and in other areas it is not. And we don’t really want to see commercial (solar) between the lake and Lake Street.”
Other changes to the plan are more like updates, rather than major changes, he said. They include rewrites of the Land Use Plan and the chapters on “Economy and Economic Development” and “Natural and Agricultural Resources and Resiliency.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
News Uncategorized

Fresh Air Fund youths returning to county

The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)

Obituaries Uncategorized

Mark A. Nelson of Bristol

BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)

Sports Uncategorized

High school athletes ready for fall playoffs this week

See when your favorite high school team is competing in the fall sports playoffs.

Share this story: