SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD January 24, 2018
Members Present: T. Maxham (Chair); N. Hayward; G. Hunt; J. Brightwell (Alternate); R. Brown; L. Kilcoyne.
Public Present: Mitchell Richardson; Jay Buermann; Kurt Sherman; Deb Sherman; Andrew Jimenez; Dan Cox; Casey Blanchard; Martha Taylor-Varney, ZA.
7:02PM – T. Maxham called the meeting to order.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
Conditional Use and Site Plan Review – Mitchell Richardson (18-48-FR138)
The warning was read, introductions were made, and Interested Persons sworn in.
Mitchel Richardson, of Keeler Bay Service and Sales, presented his proposal to the Board. He proposes to move his 10-year-old auto repair and sales business from its current location at 522 US RT 2 to a new building to be constructed on property he owns at 138 Ferry Rd. (State RT 314). The contiguous Richardson parcel has 47.1 acres in South Hero and 106+/- acres in Grand Isle. The business proposes to use an existing agriculture access, with the proposed structure to be located slightly to the left, 160 ft. from the road, and 200 ft. from the Sherman boundary to the west. Mr. Richardson stated that he chose the site because there is an existing well and power pole nearby, for visibility from the road, for the road frontage, and because that area of the parcel is not good agricultural land. He will utilize an existing State Wastewater permit (#WW—6-1773), designed to be built on the Grand Isle portion of the parcel, requiring wastewater to be pumped 700-800 feet.
Mr. Richardson wants to mimic his current business – 3000sf building, 4 employees, business hours (M-F, 8-5), and wants to own the property where his business is located. After further discussion, he said that, because he also owns a towing service, there could be additional activity beyond his stated business days/hours. Mr. Richardson does not know if there are any plans for his current site after he leaves there.
The parcel is currently an active farm, some of which is in Current Use. The location where the Applicant proposes to build his garage is not in Current Use. Because RT 314 is a State highway, VTrans is reviewing an application for a commercial access permit at the current agricultural access. Peter Pochop, VTrans permit specialist for this region, has indicated to the ZA VTrans’ intension to issue a Letter of Intent with in the next 2 weeks. Due to the size of the parcel, an Act 250 review is also required. The Board questioned whether this project would be affected by Criteria 9L of Act 250. The Board recognizes that their review is for compliance with Town development regulations only. Those issues regulated by the State are not within this DRB’s jurisdiction.
The Board considered whether this proposal would affect the character of the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to this large parcel of open agricultural land, the surrounding parcels are residential. There were questions about the number of cars expected, including those to be serviced, those for sale, and junk cars. What does the applicant plan to do with any junk cars? G. Hunt asked Mr. Richardson how he proposed to protect the character of the neighborhood. Mr. Richardson said he would maintain the property and that the garage structure would be aesthetically pleasing. The proposed structure will be steel frame with a wood exterior. He wants the structure to appear more like an agricultural structure, rather than a commercial one. He later said he may consider vinyl siding. He anticipated the cost of exterior materials will be roughly the same. J. Brightwell suggested that perhaps the parking area should be moved to the rear of the garage to shield the cars from the road and reduce the need for screening. Mr. Richardson said he would consider that idea. The number of proposed parking spaces (15) appeared to be based on the minimum required in Table 5.1 (Parking Space Requirements) for a 3000sf structure. T. Maxham suggested he may want to consider more; perhaps grade an additional area that could be finished in the future should he need additional spaces. R. Brown said that the site’s proximity to the Grand Isle Ferry made that area of town a gateway to the Islands for those arriving from the ferry. T. Maxham asked if the proposed site could be moved from its present location, further away from abutting homes. Mr. Richardson stated that the location he had chosen was not prime ag soils, in addition to the existing location of a well, power pole, and the ability to bury pipe in an area that would easily access the proposed septic site.
Open to Public: Deb Sherman, 142 Ferry Rd, is an abutter immediately to the west of the proposed garage site. Their .81-ac. organic farm is surrounded on three sides by the Richardson parcel, and the Shermans’ had been there for 26 years. Ms. Sherman expressed concern that the proposed garage structure will be only 200 feet from her property boundary. She said the Richardson parcel has always been agricultural. She wants to reduce the problems they’ve had in the past and is very concerned about possible run-off from the garage site onto her organic garden. The appearance of the Richardson property has been an eyesore in the past. She is against having an auto service facility in that location due to concerns about run-off, traffic on Ferry Rd., and possible environmental effects to her organic farm.
Kurt Sherman, 142 Ferry Rd., stated that he trusts the review process, believes in land rights, and feels that there can be solutions to concerns he has about the proposal. He cited parking, lighting, aesthetics, and character of the neighborhood. He asked if a fence could be installed as a visual buffer between the properties, to hide the building and cars from their home and property. A fence would immediately mitigate the problem, but he would also consider landscaping (trees/hedges) if it didn’t require years to grow large enough to provide screening. He stated that he preferred for the parking to be in the back of the building. Mr. Richardson stated that he was willing to work with the surrounding homeowners to consider their concerns about the proposal, and that the issue of storm-water run-off will be addressed. Mr. Sherman said they had not had good experiences in the past.
- Maxham read an email from Cindy Alsop that stated she was unable to attend the 1/24/18 hearing but requested to be considered an interested person I the matter. Her parcel, 94 Ferry Rd., abuts the Richardson parcel to the east. She stated that she was concerned about the reduced visibility at the proposed driveway access due to reduced visibility for traffic heading west.
The Board continued discussion. N. Hayward reminded the Applicant that the height of the proposed garage is measured from the average natural grade, not the finished excavated elevation. T. Maxham said that the Board cannot dictate the appearance of the structure but reminded Mr. Richardson that it should fit into the character of the area. The Board considered whether a site visit would be needed. It was decided to wait until after the continued hearing on February 14, 2018 to schedule a visit.
7:50PM – J. Brightwell moved to recess the hearing to February 14, 2018 at 7PM for continuation of the Conditional Use review and to consider the Site Plan review; L. Kilcoyne second. All in favor.
Request for Change in Conditional Use Review — Katharine Blanchard/455 West Shore Rd. LLC (18-49-WS455)
7:58PM – T. Maxham opened the hearing. The warning was read, introductions made, and interested persons sworn in.
Katharine Blanchard and Jay Buermann (Buermann Engineering) presented the proposal to the Board. Ms. Blanchard gave the Board a brief background on the removal of a previous gazebo and presented 2 options to the Board for replacements. The original pre-existing, non-conforming (to the lake and south boundary setbacks) gazebo had previously abutted a timber wall. The structure was removed when the shoreline was stabilized prior to construction of the 2-unit residence currently on the parcel. There are currently vertical posts for a new gazebo structure anchored to the rocks on the shoreline. These are from construction of a structure that was not approved. Construction ceased until a new review and approval could be granted.
Ms. Blanchard proposed 2 options for the replacement of the gazebo. Option A would be to replace the original gazebo in it’s exact location, size, and design. Removeable stairs descend from the north side of the structure for access to the lake. As a result of the previous stabilization, the shoreline wall is pushed further back from its original location. Should the Board approve Option A, the gazebo will no longer be against a lakefront wall.
The second option (Option B) presented is a reduction in the non-conformity of the original gazebo. It would be located 16’ from the mean lake level, against the new stabilized wall, as opposed to the original 9-ft. lake setback. This option will be slightly further from the south boundary. The proposed 7’x12’ floor area is smaller than the original 7’x16’. The trees along the south boundary extend toward the water far enough to shield the structure from the lakefront on that parcel. The flat metal roof will be slate gray and will angle slightly toward the lake to allow run-off away from the stabilized wall. Stairs descend from the north end of the structure to an outcrop of rock, with additional removeable stairs descending the rest of the way to the lake. The Applicant prefers this option.
Both options have similar size posts. The current (approx.) 12” diameter posts will be reduced to 8”x8” square posts above the level of the floor, to make either structure less imposing. The posts are bolted into the rock beneath with customized iron frames and bolts for added stability and to prevent structural movement or buoyancy. The 2 posts currently closest to the water will be removed and placed further from the waterline to form the west face of the proposed structure for Option B. The Applicant plans to stain the structure gray to be less imposing and to fit into the surrounding environment. Existing stone steps, further from the south boundary than the wood steps that descended to the original structure, will end with 3 steps angling toward the entrance of the structure. The fourth ‘step’ will be level with the floor of the structure, giving more headroom at the entrance.
Option B would reduce the non-conformity of the original gazebo, offer some protection from rain, possibly have a small bench, and would allow access to the beach. It will be a superior structure to the original one that was removed.
- Maxham read a letter from the Solymoss’, who are the immediate abutters to the south. They contend that, since the structure was removed voluntarily, Ms. Blanchard should not be allowed to replace it. If the Board does not agree with that interpretation, they prefer Option B, but would prefer that the lakefront face of the structure be angled more to the north west like the original structure had been.
There was additional discussion about the Flood Hazzard regulations, as 2 of the footings for the proposed structure are slightly below 106 feet, and permanent and removeable steps to the lake from the gazebo. Permanent steps would descend along the stabilized wall to a natural rock ledge (elevation 105.56ft.), with removeable stairs to descend the rest of the way.
8:42 PM – T. Maxham closed the hearing.
Review of Minutes
- Hunt moved to accept the minutes, as amended; R. Brown second. All in favor.
Administrative Officer’s Report
Martha caught the Board up on the upcoming schedule. There will be a continuation of the Richardson hearing on Feb. 14 and a 2-lot subdivision Sketch Plan review on February 28.
9:15PM – J. Brightwell moved to adjourn; L. Kilcoyne second. All in favor.
Signed: ____________________________________________ Date: ____________________
For the Development Review Board
These minutes are unofficial until approved at the next regularly-scheduled meeting. All motions were unanimous unless otherwise indicated.