Brandon Select Board
Hearing of Brandon Land Use Ordinance
May 7, 2012
NOTE: These are unapproved minutes, subject to amendment and/or approval at the subsequent board meeting.
In Attendance: Devon Fuller, Richard Baker, Mitch Pearl, Dave Atherton, Ethan Swift
Also in Attendance: Janet Mondlak, Buzz Racine, Warren Kimble, Jeff Stewart, Linda Stewart, Tina Wiles, Wayne Rausenberger, Kathy Rausenberger, Anne Bransfield, Phyllis Aitchison, Marty Feldman, Bette Moffett, Judy Bunde
1. Call to order
Mr. Fuller opened the hearing at 6:03PM for public comments relative to the adoption of the amendments to the Brandon Land Use Ordinance.
Warren Kimble asked the definition of the word sign and it was noted the definition of a sign could be found on Page 25, Definition #30, of the Brandon Land Use Ordinance (BLUO). Mr. Kimble stated if this is passed tonight, does it mean anything previous to this passage is grandfathered. It was confirmed that a sign could remain until such time the sign is replaced or changed and it would then need to be brought into conformance. Mr. Kimble asked if the existing signs are being checked for conformity with the current BLUO and Ms. Wiles noted if people are being cited for compliance issues, it does not have any bearing on this hearing. Since February 27th, the ordinance has been in effect and existing signs would have been grandfathered. Mitch Pearl stated items are grandfathered only to the affect the ordinance indicates; if there is a change in use, ownership or other trigger factors, this is something that has been addressed. Mr. Pearl advised that grandfathering is not a legal term in the ordinance. Warren Kimble stated if there is a sign in a window today and that sign changes tomorrow and says something else, how is this going to be handled going forward. Tina Wiles stated there are many different types of signs and some are exempt and are listed in the ordinances, such as temporary signs. Mr. Kimble stated if someone is advertising something in their window, what would be the time limit. Ms. Wiles stated if there is a logo or reference to the business, this is something very different. Mr. Kimble urged the Board to adjudicate the ordinance if it is going to be set in place tonight and requested Ms. Wiles, as the Zoning Administrator, go around town and keep an eye on things. He asked if someone does something wrong, will the town go to the attorney and adjudicate it. Mitch Pearl stated since this Board has been in place, the concept has been to modernize the ordinance and hire good people to enforce it. Phyllis Aitchison hoped that not all occurrences will need to go to an attorney. It was noted there is an appeal process that will be followed. Devon Fuller reviewed the window sign section and it does indicate the specifics in his opinion, and also noted that Ms. Wiles will have discussions with parties out of compliance. Linda Stewart stated the ordinance will only be as good as the enforcement of the ordinance. Mr. Fuller stated there are plans to enforce the new Brandon Land Use Ordinance.
Janet Mondlak stated that at the previous hearing, there were some questions on wording that sounded convoluted and she understands that this is the same document. Ms. Mondlak questioned if those issues had been resolve. She also stated there isn’t anything on waivers and wants a discussion of Section 407F on Page 28 as it relates to administration. Richard Baker advised that he met with Tina Wiles and he is satisfied with the document, with a couple of editorial changes that include the definitions of Sections 1102 and 1103 on Page 105 that should read the definitions in 810 and 1003. Tina Wiles stated it is the same appeal process as other applications, noting that if it is denied by the Zoning Administrator and it is felt there has been an error in judgment, people can go to the DRB. The Select Board is not looking at a waiver process for signs, for any purpose other than an error in judgment by the Zoning Administrator. Ms. Wiles stated the Planning Commission opted not to go with waivers after speaking to other towns. It was felt that it defeated the purpose of a sign ordinance, as everyone was asking for waivers. Devon Fuller stated the Select Board is taking the advice of the Planning Commission. Mitch Pearl was not in favor of waivers as it puts the Planning Commission in a difficult situation, as many people would request a waiver. Ms. Mondlak stated the entire ordinance is made up of conditional uses and one can request variances that can provide a lot more damage in other areas of the ordinance. Ethan Swift stated at the last hearing, it was discussed that variances are not usually applied for, only under conditions of hardship. He noted that variances in other areas of the BLUO should be used sparingly, if used properly. Mitch Pearl noted that historically variances should be very rare.
Judy Bunde stated there seems to be conflicting information regarding Section 11. On Page 32, Section #11 it states under restrictions in the permitted sign areas; posters shall be considered signage and have to fall under the 30% rule and then on Page 35, under exemption #12, there appears to be conflicting information regarding window displays and temporary signs. Ms. Bunde questioned whether the huge posters at the grocery store that fill up the window and block the view into the store are exempt. Tina Wiles stated if a sign is placed in a window for two weeks or less, it is temporary; but if it is left in the window for more time than that, it would not be considered a temporary sign. Buzz Racine questioned if a sign has to be fixed to the window and Tina Wiles stated if the sign is visible from the public street, it is considered a sign. The intent is not to limit merchandise displays, but to limit signs. If someone is trying to turn a temporary sign into a permanent sign, the 30% regulation needs to be enforced. Ms. Bunde questioned when a new business moves into town if there will be guidance provided on this subject. Devon Fuller stated there has not been coordination between the DBA and the Design Committee; however this would be another resource for the Zoning Administrator to obtain information. Mitch Pearl stated it is a relatively new process that can be improved upon once it is in place.
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Richard Baker to close the public hearing on the Brandon Land Use Ordinance. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Ethan Swift noted the Planning Commission has done their homework and have done a commendable job. Mr. Swift thanked the Commission for their hard work on this process. Anne Bransfield also thanked Ethan Swift for his assistance during this process.
The hearing closed at 6:36PM.