Planning Commission Rules of Procedure
I. ESTABLISHMENT OF RULES OF PROCEDURE
- Authority: The Planning Commission of the City of Montpelier shall be governed by the provisions of all applicable state statutes, the City Charter, and these Rules of Procedure, as adopted by the newly-constituted Commission at its first meeting on September 9, 2002.
- Adoption of These Rules: The Planning Commission Rules of Procedure shall be those adopted by the Commission in accordance with 24 VSA §4462. Upon adoption of the rules, a copy of these rules and all amendments shall be filed with the City Clerk as a public record and be made available to the public upon request.
- Amendments: These rules may be amended at any regular meeting by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Commission provided that such amendment has been presented in writing to each member of the Commission at least 48 hours preceding the meeting at which the vote is taken.
II. MEMBERS, OFFICERS, AND DUTIES
- Members: The Planning Commission of the City of Montpelier shall consist of seven members appointed by the City Council for two-year terms in accordance with Title 24 VSA §§4322-4323. The Planning Commission shall perform such planning functions and duties as may be required by the City Council, charter, ordinances, or applicable state laws.
- Chairperson: The Commission shall elect a chairperson from among its members by a majority vote annually in the month of January. The Chairperson shall perform the duties prescribed by State law, the City of Montpelier charter, and these rules.
- Duties of the Chairperson: The Chairperson shall call the meeting together, preside over all meetings and hearings of the Commission, put all questions, maintain order, decide all questions of order and procedure subject to these rules.
- Vice Chairperson: The Commission shall elect a chairperson from among its members by a majority vote annually in the month of January. The Vice Chairperson shall perform all of the duties of the Chairperson in the Chairperson's absence or when the Chairperson is not presiding.
- Signature: The Chairperson's signature shall be the official signature of the Commission and shall appear on all applicable documents pertaining to actions of the Commission which were made at meetings of the Commission when the Chairperson was present and presiding. The Vice Chairperson's signature shall appear on all documents pertaining to actions of the Commission which were made when the Chairperson was not present or when the Chairperson was not presiding.
- Secretary: A Secretary, who may or may not be a member of the Commission, or the Department of Planning and Community Development staff, shall be appointed by a majority of the Commission. The Secretary shall perform the following duties:
- Keep the minutes of all Commission actions and proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon every question, or if absent, disqualified, or failing to vote, shall so indicate; and shall include in the minutes the names and addresses of all witnesses, and a summary of the facts on which the decision is based and the decision rendered.
- Preserve and keep the records of the Commission's examinations and other official actions by causing those to be given into the custody of the Administrative Officer.
- Cause to be filed all minutes and records of examination and other official actions with the City Clerk as a public record. (The Secretary may use the Administrative Officer to transmit those minutes and records of examination and official actions to the City Clerk.)
- Administrative Officer: The Director of the Planning and Community Development Department, or his/her designee, who shall not be a member of the Commission, shall be the Administrative Officer for the Planning Commission. In that role, the Administrative Officer shall be responsible for the orderly and efficient administrative processes concerning all aspects of the Commission's function and have the following duties:
- Conduct official correspondence subject to these rules and at the direction of the Commission;
- Issue the proper forms, compile all information, maps, and records for the Commission's review;
- Send out all notices required by law and these rules of procedure;
- Inform persons who come before the Commission of these rules of procedure and the laws or bylaws which pertain to that person's appearance before the Commission;
- Receive all minutes and records of examination and other official actions from the Secretary of the Commission and see they are properly filed with the City Clerk; and
- Maintain copies of the minutes and records of examination and other official actions of the Commission separate and apart from those filed with the City Clerk.
- Vacancies: The Administrative Officer or his/her designee shall give immediate notice of any vacancy of the Commission to the Montpelier City Council. If the office of Chairperson becomes vacant, the Commission shall fill that office by election for the unexpired term at the next regular meeting of the Commission.
- Duties: The Planning Commission shall have all powers granted municipal planning commissions under the general laws of the State of Vermont, including, but not limited to the following:
- To prepare a Municipal Master Plan and amendments thereof for consideration by the City Council and to review any amendments thereof initiated by others, as set forth in subchapter 5 of 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117;
- To prepare and present to the City Council proposed bylaws and make recommendations to the City Council on proposed amendments to such bylaws as set forth in subchapter 6 of 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117;
- To undertake capacity studies and make recommendations on matters of land development, urban renewal, transportation, economic and social development, urban beautification and design improvements, historic and scenic preservation, the conservation of energy and the development of renewable energy resources and wetland protection. Data gathered by the Planning Commission that is relevant to the geographic information system (GIS) shall be compatible with, useful to, and shared with that system;
- To prepare and present to the City Council recommended building, plumbing, fire, electrical, housing, and related codes and enforcement procedures, and construction specifications for streets and related public improvements;
- To prepare and present or review and present findings on a recommended capital budget and program for a period of five years, as set forth in §4426 of 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117, for action by the City Council, as set forth under §4404a of 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117;
- To hold public meetings;
- To require from other departments and agencies of the City such available information as relates to the work of the Planning Commission;
- To enter upon land to make examinations and surveys in the performance of its functions;
- To participate in regional planning programs;
- To retain staff and consultant assistance in carrying out its duties and powers;
- To undertake comprehensive planning, including related preliminary and engineering studies;
- To perform such other acts or functions as it may deem necessary or appropriate to fulfill the duties and obligations imposed by, and the intent and purpose of 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117;
- To perform any other duties which may be assigned to it by the City Council;
- To establish sub-committees to carry out its work; and
- To advocate for, monitor, and actively engage in the implementation of the Municipal Master Plan.
III. GENERAL RULES
- Records: A file of all documents, physical evidence, public proceedings, and decisions showing the vote, absence, or failure to vote of each member upon each question shall be kept by the Administrative Officer as part of the records of the Planning Commission. All records of the Commission shall be public records.
- Fees: The Montpelier City Council shall determine such fees as may be necessary for the filing of notices and the processing of hearings and action thereon.
- Regular Meetings: Regular meetings of the Planning Commission shall be held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays in each calendar month, unless there is no business to transact, in which case the meeting may be canceled. If the regular meeting falls on a holiday, the regular meeting will be held on the next working day if possible. Meetings shall be held in a location that is handicapped accessible.
- Site Visits: The Commission may convene at a site if the Commission feels a site visit will aid in their understanding of a proposed project, activity, or study. Members may visit a site individually or as a Commission. If a quorum of the Commission is present, it is an open meeting and its date and time must be announced and/or posted in accordance with state law.
- Special Meetings: Special meetings of the Commission may be called by the Chairperson or by a majority of the members of the Commission provided that at least 24 hours written notice of the time, place, and business of such meeting shall be given each member of the Commission. Action items requiring public hearing notice shall conform to the notice requirements in 24 V.S.A. §4447 and will not be scheduled for a special meeting.
- Order of Business: The Commission may establish a regular order of business, that includes such items as committee reports, general appearances, public hearings, or other orders of business at all regular meetings of the Commission. If established, such order of business shall be described in this section.
- Open Meetings: All meetings of the Commission and its committees shall be open to the public, and held in a location that is handicapped accessible. No longer a quasi-judicial body, the Commission cannot enter into deliberative sessions which are not open to the public to discuss the issues. The Commission and its committees can enter into executive sessions only in accordance with the Open Meeting Law.
V. CONFLICT OF INTEREST
All members of the Planning Commission shall abide by the City of Montpelier Ethics Policy adopted by the Montpelier City Council on April 28, 1999 together with any subsequent amendments. No disqualified member shall preside at the hearing or be counted by the Commission in establishing the required quorum. The applicant or any interested party (1) may petition the Commission to disqualify any member because of a conflict of interest. If the Chairperson is disqualified, the Vice Chairperson shall preside. In the event the Vice-Chairperson is unable to preside, a majority of the remaining Commission shall appoint an Acting Vice-Chairperson for the proceeding.
VI. CONDUCT OF PUBLIC HEARINGS
- Public hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the applicable rules as set forth in 24 V.S.A. §4384, 24 VSA §4403, and other rules as applicable.
- Representation: Any interested party may appear in person or be represented by an agent or attorney.
- Record of Proceedings: Proceedings at public hearings shall be recorded either electronically or by a court stenographer at the discretion of the Commission. A transcript of the proceedings shall be made at the request of any party upon payment of the reasonable costs thereof.
- Recess of Public Hearing: The Commission may recess a public hearing if all the matters pertaining to it cannot be disposed of on the day set. No further public notice shall be necessary provided that the date, time, and place of the recessed hearing shall be announced before adjournment.
- Quorum: For the conduct of a meeting or hearing and the taking of any action a quorum must be present. A quorum for the Planning Commission shall consist of four (4) members.
- Majority of Vote Required: Determination on any matter before the Commission shall require the concurrence of four members of the Commission, regardless of any vacancies or disqualifications.
- Motions in the Affirmative: All motions made for any decision shall be made in the affirmative. This does not imply that the person making or seconding the motion support that motion. A failure to obtain four affirmative votes shall be considered a denial. An abstention equals a negative vote.
- Quorum may Transact all Business of the Commission: If a quorum of the Commission is present at a meeting, that quorum may transact all matters that may or are required to come before it.
1. Interested party or parties as defined in V.S.A. 24 §4464 B.
Adopted by the Planning Commission on September 23, 2002.
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