SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD August 28, 2019
Members Present: Tim Maxham (Chair); Doug Patterson (Vice Chair); Jim Brightwell (alternate); Ross Brown, Sherry Corbin; Nate Hayward; Gareth Hunt; Liza Kilcoyne; Robert Krebs (alternate)
Others Present: Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator)
Members Absent: None
Douglass, Denise Abbott
Call to Order: Meeting was called to order by T. Maxham at 7:00 p.m.
The meeting was held at the Worthen Library.
Changes to Agenda: None.
Public Input: None.
Hearing: 20-02-RT513 (RL Vallee Conditional Use & Site Plan Review, Convenience Store & Two Gasoline Dispensaries)
- Maxham opened the hearing at 7:00 p.m.
Notice & Oath
- Patterson read the hearing warning. T. Maxham administered the oath to the applicants and attending members of the public.
- Maxham welcomed the audience and explained that input from the audience would be entertained after the presentation and questions by the Board. T. Maxham noted that this session would be an initial presentation by the applicant; that the hearing would be continued at another date; and that the entire Board plus both alternates were present.
Appearing on behalf of the applicant:
Skip Vallee, R.L. Vallee Inc.
Chris Galipeau, Civil Engineering Associates
Presentation by Skip Vallee. S. Vallee said that his presentation was intended to solicit initial feedback, similar to that obtained in a sketch plan hearing, noting that South Hero ordinances do not provide for a sketch plan process. He asked for honest feedback from the Board and the public so that he could modify the project in response to concerns. S. Vallee said that this project represents an opportunity to incorporate a historic building into a development project and cited examples including Middlebury, Woodstock Vermont, and Stowe where historic structures have been incorporated into Maplefields developments. S. Vallee showed sketches of a proposed 2000 square foot addition to the building housing McKees restaurant. The addition would house a Maplefields convenience store. Two gas pumps are proposed. S. Vallee said that the proposed Maplefields was smaller than the usual 5- or 6- thousand square feet store since McKees would continue to provide food at the location. S. Vallee said that architectural goals were to incorporate the historic Federalist-style building into their plans.
- Galipeau presented the site plan and said that the full design plan with more detail was not yet developed. The proposed configuration uses the existing curb cuts off of Route 2. VTRANS has separate plans for modifying the culvert and the curb cut. Access will be from the curb cut to the south of the building on Route 2, as well as from a curb cut on the north of the building accessible via a shared right-of-way centered on the property line. There is a septic system on the west side of the parcel, and a culvert along the south edge of the parking area. Two multi-product dispensers (fuel pumps) are proposed under a canopy on the south side, with parking. The septic was recently re-permitted.
Upon conclusion of the presentation, T. Maxham said that the Board would first ask questions, followed by the public. He explained that the Board would limit the detail of their questions in this session to allow time for input and questions from the public.
- Brown asked what will happen to the existing Island Beverage building. S. Vallee responded that it was not part of the property and not part of the development.
- Maxham asked for clarification of the shared access along the north side of the building. C. Galipeau said that there is a 20’ wide easement on the north, centered on the property line, for access to both properties. The applicant proposes to maintain the access. S. Vallee said that although the property does bound on Route 314, direct access from 314 is not currently proposed due to conflict with the septic system and its possible future expansion.
- Maxham asked how much frontage the property had on Route 314. C. Galipeau estimated 120’. C. Galipeau said they had looked at access from Route 314 but since the septic was recently permitted in the current location they were not proposing access from Route 314 at this time. T. Maxham asked what the acreage of the parcel was. C. Galipeau said 4.7 acres.
- Maxham asked if the applicant was aware of the improvements that the Agency of Transportation had planned for the intersection. S. Vallee said that the applicant had received a letter from AOT a week ago proposing improvements for the culvert and asking for an easement. C. Galipeau said that they would work with VTRANS to provide needed easements and to improve the drainage on the lot and at the curb cut, noting that water flows across the driveway at the curb cut during heavy rains. S. Vallee said that there was the possibility of creating a catch basin to prevent water from flowing across the driveway.
- Maxham said that low cars sometimes bottomed out crossing the open swale in the parking area.
- Vallee said that all of the new areas were proposed to be paved, which would solve the problem of the gullies that were created in the parking area. There is an opportunity to direct some of the storm water from the lot into a treatment area so that all of the drainage from the parking area doesn’t run directly into the brook.
- Kilcoyne asked how traffic going in and out of the two driveways was going to be managed – whether the traffic would be one-way or two-way. C. Galipeau said that they have yet to meet with the State to discuss traffic; currently they are showing one-way traffic in on the north access and will have pavement with delineated parking and directional controls. The existing curb cut south of the building will have two-way traffic as it does today. C. Galipeau said they are not proposing any changes to the curb cuts. L. Kilcoyne asked how many parking spaces would be created. C. Galipeau said they were proposing 33 parking spaces. S. Vallee said that they were planning parking to accommodate both the convenience store and restaurant, and would be providing more information on parking at a later date.
- Maxham asked where the gas tanks were to be located. S. Vallee said they were not shown yet and were usually one of the last things to be added to the plan. T. Maxham asked if they would be under the parking area. S. Vallee said yes. T. Maxham asked if the gas tanks were regulated by the State. S. Vallee said yes.
- Brown said that if he took his Board hat off, he imagined that audience members might be asking why there was a need for two gas station/convenience store outlets on the same corner in a small town like South Hero. S. Vallee said that the primary improvement his company offers is a public bathroom, which will also advantage the restaurant, observing that nobody on that corner has a decent public bathroom. S. Vallee said that his organization complies with zoning ordinances, and his reading of the ordinances indicates that the proposed use is valid with conditional use approval.
- Corbin said that her biggest concern was traffic and asked how the Maplefields would be signed. S. Vallee said a sign would be on the façade of the store, not the historic building, and that details of signage would be provided with the fully detailed proposal that would include signage and landscaping. S. Vallee said that the purpose of this high-level proposal was to obtain input to incorporate in a more detailed proposal. He said that he heard traffic as an issue and would ensure that the subsequent proposal would include input from a traffic consultant.
- Taylor-Varney said that in three weeks the Town will have a new sign ordinance, and that the new sign ordinance prohibited internally lit signs. S. Vallee said that he has many installations where standard commercial signage has been made more esthetically pleasing to comply with local requirements.
- Maxham said that since the sign regulation was an ordinance, the applicant had the opportunity to make a proposal directly to the Select Board on internally illuminated signs. S. Vallee said that usually they could figure out a way to work within existing sign ordinances.
- Corbin said that the raised section in front of McKees blocks the view of southbound traffic on Route 314. C. Galipeau said that landscaping is proposed for the front of McKees, and that he would discuss with McKees how to configure landscaping and lighting so as not to hinder sight distances.
- Hunt asked who owned which buildings shown on the site plan. S. Vallee said that McKees owns the site and the existing building, that R. L. Vallee would lease the property for an extended period of time and have ownership of the new building, the tanks, the pumps, and help fund the septic.
- Krebs said that he was especially concerned with turning movements of traffic, observing that there was always a queue of traffic northbound on Route 2 waiting to turn left on 314 to go to the ferry. He said he was also concerned about pedestrian movement from the gas pumps and parking area to the buildings, and expressed concern about whether there would be left turn opportunities coming out of the lot, due to ferry traffic turning left onto 314 on northbound Route 2.
- Corbin asked if AOT had plans for a light at the intersection. M. Taylor-Varney said yes.
- Patterson expressed concern about traffic and said that he thought a full-blown traffic study was required. S. Vallee said he will do that.
- Maxham opened the hearing for public questions and comments.
Denise Abbott Douglass said that she traveled through the corridor every day, and that it was a dangerous intersection for people who live to the north, observing that people driving southbound from the ferry do not fully stop at the light. She cited an instance where she was at the gas station when a car involved in an accident at the intersection was almost pushed into her.
Kelly Cota said that she would like to obtain interested party status. She asked if the development was subject to Act 250. C. Galipeau said that he was looking into it. Kelly Cota asked if AOT was aware of the proposed convenience store. C. Galipeau said that as they were at sketch plan stage, they had not notified anyone yet, but will file a project review sheet and an 1111 application with AOT before filing for local approval. Kelly Cota asked if the apartments in the McKees Pub building will be kept. S. Vallee said that the apartments would become part of the office space for the store. Kelly Cota asked how many parking spaces there would be for both businesses. S. Vallee said that they were proposing a substantial addition to parking, but did not have exact numbers at this point. T. Maxham said that the Town regulations specify parking requirements and that parking would be the subject of review by the Board.
Roy Maynard from Grand Isle said that he went through the corner every day, that getting in and out of the gas station was OK, but in and out of McKees was difficult. Mr. Maynard said that DOT should have a roundabout at the intersection. Mr. Maynard said that he thought that Mr. Vallee’s proposed development will mess up a historic property, would not work at this location, and that the town didn’t need four gas stations.
Stanley Wood expressed concern about traffic volume. S. Vallee said that his planning will incorporate the State’s plans for the intersection in the traffic study.
Roy Maynard said the development affects the whole County, and that 25 or 30 years from now we’ll be plugging in our cars, not gassing them up.
John Nichols of South Hero wondered what effect the development would have on Island Beverage. S. Vallee said that he competes with Island Beverage based on the quality of his offering, which includes a fresh, revised look and bathrooms.
Roy Maynard asked if R.L. Vallee had an existing business relationship with Cota. S. Vallee said that was about to end. R. Maynard said that he felt that he and other members of the public had a concern about the impact on other businesses. T. Maxham said that this was not the appropriate forum to address this issue. S. Vallee said that they were appearing before the hearing to obtain input on elements of the proposal from the Board and the public that were covered by the zoning ordinances. R. Maynard asked whether R. L. Vallee had attempted to buy the Cota’s business. T. Maxham said that this was not the place to address that. R. Maynard asked whether this was a public information meeting where the public could question the proposal. T. Maxham said that the Board’s scope of authority was to apply the Town’s development regulations and that through the regulations it could consider the question of “character of the neighborhood.” R. Maynard asked whether the Board could consider the “character of the applicant.” S. Vallee asked what provision of the regulations considered the character of the applicant.
Judy Dunn of South Hero asked if traffic will go through the pub parking and whether pedestrian traffic would compete with autos. S. Vallee said that was a good point, and was best addressed by designated walkways.
Joan Hays of South Hero said that she was concerned about the esthetics of the town and questioned the need for another gas station at that location. T. Maxham said that “character of the neighborhood” was in the bylaws and that the Board would consider this issue as a part of its deliberations.
Alex Bower of South Hero asked what the convenience store will provide and if it included wine and beer. S. Vallee said that the store would provide wine and beer and be similar to the store in Chimney Corners, but would have less food since there was a restaurant next door.
Judy Dunn asked how many square feet the Chimney Corners store incorporated. S. Vallee said about 3600 square feet.
(Unintelligible) asked if the bathrooms for the convenience store will be separate from those for McKees. S. Vallee answered that they will be separate to allow for different operating hours.
Colleen Joyce expressed concern for residents that live nearby and wondered what measures were being taken to prevent tankers coming in at night from disturbing residents.
Kelly Cota asked what the existing wastewater plan was designed to accommodate. C. Galipeau said that the majority of flows for the existing system support a 51 seat restaurant plus 3 bedrooms associated with the apartments. Since Maplefields is only proposing two MPDs, which require 125 gallons of septic capacity per fueling hose, and there was no seating proposed in the Maplefields, there is room to accommodate the new facility with the existing septic permit. There is also the ability to adjust restaurant seating if necessary, pending discussions between the two businesses. C. Galipeau said that the existing plan is filed with the State under the name of Champlain Consulting Engineers and is viewable on the State’s website; nothing has yet been filed by R. L. Vallee. S. Vallee said that there would need to be some modifications to the septic system based on the location of the new driveways.
Kelly Cota asked if the existing septic system was failing. C. Galipeau said that the current owner was proactively improving it.
- Maxham said that the septic was regulated by the State, not the Town.
- Brown asked about storm water runoff. C. Galipeau said that they were not adding a lot of impervious cover. S. Vallee said that all of the runoff from the parking area now goes into the brook, and that the redesign will seek to channel and collect runoff into a treatment area.
- Maxham said that he expected that a storm water treatment plan would be required by the State. C. Galipeau said both waste water and storm water plans were required by the State.
Nancy Wood asked whether the site was hooking into town water. S. Vallee said that the site is currently served by well. C. Galipeau said the site is permitted for a base flow of water and waste water which cannot be exceeded, and the State has jurisdiction.
Denise Abbott Douglas asked how long the build will take and how many jobs it would create. S. Vallee said that the project would take about six months, and that the usual cadre of employees would be about 20.
(Unintelligible) asked what the setbacks for the pumps are from the stream. C. Galipeau said that they had not yet reached out to rivers and streams, and that the key thing they were trying to avoid is sheet flow from the lot into the stream, which could be collected into an oil/water separator. S. Vallee said that he had asked the engineers to look at the required buffer area and that the drawings presented reflect their interpretation of the relevant statutes.
Stan Wood said that the new development would create more water than there is now. C. Galipeau said that they model and size the new system to reduce the flows from what they are now.
Denise Abbott Douglas asked what the hours of operation would be. S. Vallee said normally about 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Maxham asked for further questions from the Board, and hearing none, said that the Board would continue the hearing at a future date. M. Taylor-Varney proposed a continuation of the hearing on November 13th, and said that if the applicant was not ready on that date they could ask for a continuance. S. Vallee was agreeable to the date.
Stan Wood asked how long the building had been there. Nobody knew. T. Maxham said that if the building was covered by any historical regulations the applicant would have to comply.
- Kilcoyne made a motion to recess the hearing to 7PM November 13th at the Worthen Library. The motion was seconded by N. Hayward and carried by acclamation.
Review of Minutes
- Brown moved to accept the minutes of August 14th as amended. G. Hunt seconded. The motion passed by acclamation.
The Administrator’s Report was delivered by Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator)
September 11. Two-lot subdivision sketch plan for Santor on Whipple Road.
September 25th. Continuation of site plan and conditional use approval for Keeler Bay Marina, and Santor final plat.
October 9th. Wright Family Partnership subdivision (tentative).
Nov 7th. Half day workshop State Government Municipal Days the town will pay for it if anyone is interested in going.
- Corbin moved to adjourn the business meeting and to move to deliberative session; the motion was seconded by R. Brown and carried by acclamation at 8:42 p.m.
James G. Brightwell
Clerk for S. Hero Development Review Board
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.