BY MAT CLOUSER
BRANDON — Several Brandon Zoning and Planning Department issues — including the administrator’s report, the addition of an alternate Planning Commission board member, and issues surrounding the Brandon Farmer’s Market’s request for additional days to their temporary signage permit — led a sprawling line of conversation that dominated the proceedings in Monday night’s select board meeting.
Zoning Administrator Jefferey Biasuzzi said it had been a better than average fiscal year for the department, citing forward progress regarding commercial zoning — particularly with the SolarFest development of the old Steinberg Farm location on Steinberg Lane.
During the select board’s last meeting, the board voted to shrink the Planning Commission’s board seats from seven to five to make it easier for the board — which has seen dwindling numbers — to reach a quorum at its meetings.
Biasuzzi, noting the potential to do business, volunteered as an alternate who could fill in if the board was short-staffed. After some conversation, it was determined that the board’s preference would be to have someone else serve as the alternate as Biasuzzi is not a Brandon resident, at which point Sue Gage stepped up to volunteer. She was subsequently voted in unanimously.
Biasuzzi then moved the conversation toward the Farmer’s Market’s request for an extension on their permit for temporary signage from 42 days to 120. Several issues were raised with the signage, including the board’s lack of authority to extend past 42 days based on state laws and ongoing non-compliance issues with the Farmer’s Market and a number of other downtown businesses.
At the heart of the matter were safety concerns, with the board noting that the town is under obligation to enforce state laws pertaining to right of way guidelines. In particular, all class one roadways in the state must not have any signage within 24.5 feet of the centerline.
Both Biasuzzi and the board admitted the guidelines were not being met by many businesses in the downtown area.
In the end, it was decided that Town Manager Dave Atherton and Mr. Biasuzzi would explain in detail the laws to all the varying businesses downtown before making any moves to enforce them, with the thinking being that once everyone understands the state’s position it will be easier for the town to seek compliance.
Board member Tim Guiles made a point to clarify that he was in support of all businesses having the ability to display signage, but that they must do so legally to maintain safety in what is already a somewhat difficult downtown area.
In other business, the select board:
- Approved Town Manager Dave Atherton’s ability to move forward with plans for a stormwater chamber project at the park on West Seminary Street that will be designed to catch more sediment and release cleaner water into the Neshobe River.
- Approved Lollie Hoxie as a new member of the Energy Committee to replace Lowell Rasmussen at the end of his term.
- Agreed to write a letter in support of the Brandon Free Library’s perusal of a VCHB grant for its upcoming renovations, contingent on Dave Atherton’s ability to review the letter to determine that it suits the town’s needs.
- Voted unanimously to forgo the enforcement of any late homestead filing fees.
- Approved the reassignment of the following budgeted funds: $30,000 in travel and expenses, clothing allowances, professional development and fuel for BPD, $5,262 in excess fundraising dollars for BPD’s K-9 program, and $8,000 in fuel for the buildings and grounds budget.