New ZA meets with Wilmington officials


WILMINGTON -- The Planning Commission had a guest at its latest meeting who plans on attending future meetings.

"Historically, I've attended all Planning Commission meetings," said Wilmington Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson, who filled the position on June 2. "I think it's valuable to keep a close tie with a planning commission."

In response, commission chairwoman Wendy Manners said that whatever the commission passes, he will be stuck with.

"We keep our door open to comment," added Manners. "We're trying to improve outreach to do that."

On Monday, June 16, the commission addressed Article 3. That article as well as Article 2 eventually will be brought to the Selectboard for a public hearing. Article 2 addresses districts while Article 3 addresses standards and procedures.

Manners mentioned that the last time these documents were updated in a rewrite, which was approved and adopted by the Selectboard, it had caused some issues. It was considered imperfect by the Selectboard and other town officials.

The latest proposed changes to zoning ordinances, in Article 4 and 5, will be given to the Selectboard to mull over before it hosts a public hearing. Those articles address administration, definitions and signs. A public hearing will be held on July 16 to address the articles before adopted.

The commission went through the "Nicki list," referring to former Development Review Board Chairwoman Nicki Steel, who offered the commission suggestions on how to improve the imperfect document that was adopted. Former DRB member Andy Schindel and a member of the public also offered suggestions that were included on the list.

The commission decided it needed to conduct more research on a few items that included shrubbery, statutes regarding curb cut requirements and alternatives for brightly lit businesses. Ohlson said he would prefer to play a role outside of the commission until he gets his feet on the ground, instead of submitting questions to Windham Regional Commission Senior Planner John Bennett after the meeting.

When the question of enforcement came up, Ohlson seemed positive that he could enforce the size of plantings in the village and commercial districts but junkyards may prove to be more of a challenge.

Ohlson also met with the DRB for his first time after the commission meeting. The DRB had no hearings but wanted to discuss the role Ohlson will play.

"It went well," he said. "The intent of the meeting was just to get all of us together in a room to go over how we're going to move forward and what they expect and what I expect and who's going to do what and so fourth."

Recently, vacant DRB positions were filled. Former members left following a decision by the Selectboard not to appoint Schindel as a regular member. The board appointed him as an alternate but he chose not to take the position. As a result, Steel and two other members Sherry Brissette and Sheila Osler resigned. Manners then joined the DRB as well as Deb Dorsett. Peter Wallace was a member for one hearing before the resignations and remained on the board.

Ohlson told the Reformer he will be available to answer any questions the board has regarding process or a specific application.

"I've always referred to it as, 'Speak when spoken to,'" he said. "I can't talk about the merits of an application other than you need this or you'll need that or you're in the floodplain."

Ohlson says he plans to regularly attend DRB hearings, too, and assist in anyway he can. The next DRB hearing will be on July 7.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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