TOWN OF RUTLAND
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
JANUARY 22, 2009
The meeting opened at 7:00 P.M.
Commission members present: Howard Burgess, Richard Hoenes, Raymond Leonard, Richard Lloyd, William Matteson, Jerry Stearns, Tom Turner and Charles Vajda.
Review of the 1/8/2009 Minutes
Mr. Turner had some additions and changes to the sections on the Hubbard sketch plan, the zoning draft changes and his comments on the DRB (Development Review Board). Mr. Hoenes motioned to accept the minutes with these changes and Mr. Turner seconded the motion. All were in approval.
The Rutland Town Plan Update
Mr. Jamie Stewart, executive director of the Rutland Economic Development Corporation, and Tara Kelly from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission were present to discuss the outcome of the January 15th mixer with the business community. They passed out sheets with attendees’ comments, including a letter from Doug Carey, a local businessman, and lead a discussion on how these comments can filter into the section of the Rutland Town Plan on strategic economic development.
Mr. Matteson said he felt the mixer was a success but that some of the comments from the mixer were not within the authority of the Planning Commission, for example, the merging of Rutland Town and Rutland City and Mr. Stewart agreed that some items were not appropriate for the Town Plan, but there would be an economic advantage to enhancing the relationship with the City, specifically better access to sewer and water. He said that businesses want predictability.
Mr. Lloyd said there had been a vote by the Town some years back concerning the proposed merger of the two entities and it was voted down. However, he felt that there were some good relationships with the City, and cited the Highway departments as an example. He said that he felt the Commission should concentrate on items of which they have control. Ms. Kelly explained that the Town Plan has a broader scope than just what the Planning Commission can control.
Mr. Burgess talked about a committee formed years ago between the City and the Town concerning water and sewer. He felt this worked well and a contract was the result. He said he thought having this type of format would be useful going forward.
Mr. Stewart brought up the need for wireless high-speed internet access in the area and said that this is very important to new businesses when they look to locate to an area. He stated that there are funds available to help with this. Mr. Turner asked about General Electric in this regard and Mr. Stewart said that they have their own T-3 lines. Mr. Matteson said that the Corps of Engineers is looking to locate a site for business the area.
Mr. Matteson asked how the ideas from the mixer could be incorporated into the Town Plan. Mr. Stewart said to appoint a committee to decide the most important issues and list who could be responsible to implement proposed ideas. Mr. Matteson said that the Commission could take the list from the meeting and prioritize. Mr. Stewart counseled that statements should be broad so that any issue could be eligible for State and Federal funding assistance.
There was a discussion on tax stabilization and current use. Mr. Matteson explained that agricultural land no longer has tax stabilization through the Town as the contract expired in 2008. Mr. Burgess said that some people have filed through the State for tax reduction through the Current Use Program. Mr. Stewart said there are other ways to help agricultural farmers such as finding markets for their products. Mr. Matteson said that preservation of open land is an issue as well as preserving agriculture. Ms. Kelly suggested the help of the Vermont Land Trust in this regard.
Mr. Stewart said that tax stabilization is still available through the State but there is a more difficult process to follow. There are two ways to do it; one is through the Vermont Economic Council and the other is local, but the Town would have to pay the State what they lose in educational taxes. He said more companies are making use of the Vermont Growth Incentive which gives incentives to companies who would create jobs with good wages.
There was a brief discussion on the Town’s strengths and Ms. Kelly said it would be good to describe the diversity of the Town. Mr. Matteson said he would like to point out the Stafford Technical School and Ms. Kelly said that this would be covered under the section in the Work Force/Educational section.
Ms. Kelly brought up improving properties that were in poor repair. Mr. Matteson said that he thought this would be difficult considering the current economic climate.
Mr. Turner cited some ideas from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission’s newsletter which included brown field assistance and the repair of local bridges. Brown water is that which is perceived to be contaminated. Ms. Kelly stated that there is assistance for clean-up of commercial areas but not residential. Mr. Stewart said most local problems of this nature are already known and are being worked on. Ms. Kelly said problems are usually found when a property is going to be sold as the banks look into these issues.
Mr. Stewart said that there wasn’t a large enough pool of doctors, civil and electrical engineers and other technically trained people in the area and that a well-trained work force is another help in acquiring new businesses. He mentioned working with REDC (Rutland Economic Development Corporation) to locate new businesses to the community.
Mr. Turner said that support should be given by ton officials to General Electric since they are a major employer in the Town with good paying jobs.
Ms. Kelly said that she would start drafting language on some of the issues discussed at tonight’s meeting and that she would attend the next Planning Commission meeting. Ms. Kelly mentioned that the contract the Rutland Town Commission has with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission concerning the update to the Town Plan will expire on May 15, 2009. She passed out plans for the next few meetings in order to meet the deadline. Mr. Turner said that there could be no meetings missed in order to finish the plan and Mr. Matteson said that if extra meetings were needed in order to accomplish this task, then that could be arranged.
Mr. Lloyd motioned to end the meeting. Mr. Hoenes seconded the motion. All were in approval. The meeting ended at 8:45 P.M.
William Matteson, Chairman Date