Vergennes zoning regs moving forward; no move to smaller lot sizes yet

VERGENNES — With little comment, proposed new Vergennes zoning and subdivision regulations that would, among other things create Solar Energy Overlay District, took another step forward at the March 27 city council meeting.
The council on Tuesday held the first of at least two required hearings on the proposed amendments, which would also ban street-level and basement apartments in the downtown business district and make another 20-plus changes, many minor but some significant.
The only comments came in a letter from New Haven developer Scott Hardy. The Vergennes Development Review Board recently approved Hardy’s plan for a four-lot subdivision on Comfort Hill that includes a 5.6-acre parcel in the city’s High Density Residential (HDR) zoning district.
Hardy wrote “most of Vergennes residential single-family housing” already sits on lots of between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet, and he suggested that high-density zoning should reflect that reality with a reduction in the required minimum lot size from 15,000 square feet (about 1/3 of an acre) to about 10,000 square feet (about 1/4 of an acre).
Hardy also wrote “while affordable elderly housing is important for a community … There are proven studies where multi-generational living is best for everyone.”
He concluded, “Why not help create more utilization of the little land left in Vergennes for all ages and income levels.”
Planning Commission Chairman Shannon Haggett said planners had considered smaller lots, but only “late in the process,” and they did not want to make the change without more feedback from HDR residents.
“We want to get more input from the people living in that district,” Haggett said, adding they will be studying the issue.
The amendments are based on the city plan that the city council adopted in 2017 upon planners’ recommendation.
The Solar Energy Overlay District would limit the siting of solar arrays of greater than 15 kilowatts to a number of less populated areas in the city and is superimposed over other zoning districts.
City officials said they favor rooftop arrays and other options, such as solar shingles, in neighborhoods not in the overlay district.
Other provisions would allow the DRB flexibility on garage siting, allow garages to be counted as parking spaces for proposed developments, place restrictions on sandwich board signs, and allow density bonuses for projects that meet “third party” energy standards.
The council will hold its second, and almost certainly final, hearing on the regulations at 6 p.m. on April 24.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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