SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD June 10, 2020
Members Present: Tim Maxham (Chair), Doug Patterson (Vice Chair), Jim Brightwell, Nate Hayward, Gareth Hunt, Liza Kilcoyne, Mike Welch(alternate), Sue Arguin (alternate), W. Rowe
Others Present: Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator); Sandy Gregg (Planning Commission), David Roy (Planning Commission)
Members Absent: None
Public Present: Jessica Montani, Bridget and Doug Kerr, Cinthia Spense, Jeff Sikora, Jim and Irene Falby, Sharon Chadwick, Grigori Scarlat, Anne Quinn, Douglas Walker, Michele and Mike Gammal, Mandy Hotchkiss, Paul Hendler.
Call to Order: Meeting was called to order by D. Patterson at 7:00 p.m. D. Patterson chaired the meeting at the request of T. Maxham. The meeting was conducted by Zoom web meeting software.
Changes to Agenda: None
Public Input: None
Hearing: 20-51-RT275 Conditional Use Hearing for Trucking Terminal – Grigorii Scarlat
- Patterson opened the hearing at 7:05 p.m.
Notice & Oath
- Taylor-Varney read the hearing warning. D. Patterson administered the oath to the attending members of the public.
Appearing on behalf of the applicant:
The hearing was for a conditional use of the parcel at 275 US Route 2, Lot 5, for use as a trucking terminal. The proposed use is not a permitted use as defined in Table 2.1 of the South Hero Development Regulations.
- Scarlat said that he is the owner of a small trucking company running about 8 trucks doing long-haul runs. G. Scarlat said that the closest permitted use he found in the South Hero Development Regulations is motor vehicle repair facility, which doesn’t describe all of the things he is requesting. He said he is requesting permission for a trucking terminal, consisting of a 60’x60’ building and a parking lot. Lot 5 is 2.38 acres. G. Scarlat said he is currently renting in Milton and is looking for a facility where he can own and have sufficient room for his operations and accommodate potential growth.
- Kilcoyne asked if there was a site plan or if the Board was just looking at conditional use. M. Taylor-Varney said the Board was just looking at conditional use in this hearing.
- Scarlat said that he is a prospective buyer of the property and that his purchase of the land was conditional on obtaining the use he needs. He said that he realized that while commercial use was allowed in the village, trucking terminal was not currently an allowed use and he hoped that through this hearing trucking terminal would be added as an allowed use.
- Brightwell said that Table 2.1 of the regulations lists the allowed uses in the zone, and that while the DRB could not add new uses to the list, the DRB could provide a conditional use if the use met criteria outlined in Section 302 of the regulations. J. Brightwell said that he did not see in the information packet for the hearing all of the information required of a conditional use applicant by Section 302. M. Taylor-Varney said that the sole purpose of this hearing was to determine whether the proposed use is covered by one or more of the uses listed in Table 2.1. If the Board found that the proposed use was conditionally permitted, then a full conditional use hearing would be held.
- Hayward asked if the Planning Commission had an opportunity to provide input by the provision of Section 204 B (3). M. Taylor-Varney said that Planning Commission members were in attendance for that purpose.
- Brightwell apologized for derailing the applicant’s testimony and suggested resuming learning about the proposed use. J. Brightwell asked what type of vehicles would be parked on the facility; how many vehicles; etc. G. Scarlat said that the vehicles would be 18-wheelers (trucks and trailers). Right now he has eight 18-wheelers; there could be twenty in a couple of years. He estimated that there is a maximum physical potential for 30 trucks on the site considering the footprint of the shop. The trucks are 72’ long by 8.5’ wide. The shop would be only for the repair of his trucks and would not be open to the public.
- Brightwell asked if all 20-30 trucks would be on the lot at the same time. G. Scarlat said that most trucks would be on the road at any given time except for holidays.
- Brightwell asked if there would be refrigerated trailers parked on the lot. G. Scarlat said that he does not run refers, only dry vans (no motorized units attached to the trailers). G. Scarlat said that idling would occur only when the trucks are warming up and building up air for their brakes.
- Brightwell asked what the hours of operation would be. G. Scarlat said that most of the activity would be during the day since he is not running a trucking terminal where cargo is transferred, and usually businesses where he is picking up or dropping loads in Vermont work regular business hours. J. Brightwell asked what hours the shop would have. G. Scarlat said 8 to 5, staffed by himself as dispatcher and one part-time mechanic as needed.
- Arguin asked how far off of Route 2 is lot 5. G. Scarlat said Lot 5 is the third lot, about 700 feet in. S. Arguin asked what the facility would look like from the road. G. Scarlat said you would see a building, with the trucks parked behind. If necessary, he could provide a visual barrier with trees. Also if Lots 1 & 2 were developed he did not think that his facility would be visible from Route 2. S. Arguin asked if the lot would be paved or gravel. G. Scarlat said the lot would be gravel. S. Arguin asked if the noise would bother the neighbors. G. Scarlat said that the neighbor to the east was a machine shop; to the south was a large open area. He foresaw a problem only if somebody built a house within the development, which he did not think likely in a commercial area.
- Kilcoyne asked if he would have a fueling facility on the site. G. Scarlat said no – due to the small size of his operation a bulk fuel facility would not be feasible.
- Welch asked if there would be ongoing maintenance of trucks on the site. G. Scarlat said yes, basic maintenance would take place primarily in the shop building. He said that the type of maintenance is similar to that performed servicing cars. G. Scarlat said that he thought for this reason that he would fit within the designation of motor vehicle repair but that he recognized that although his vehicles are motor vehicles, they are big and he felt is necessary to bring this to the town’s attention.
- Hunt asked what kind of equipment was needed outside. G. Scarlat said a snowplow in the winter; mowing equipment in the summer; and cars parked by the drivers while they are on the road. G. Hunt asked if there would be any outside storage. G. Scarlat said no, possibly with the exception of a container to store tires at some point in the future.
- Patterson asked to confirm his understanding that there would be no loading of cargo at the facility. G. Scarlat said there would be no loading/unloading.
- Welch asked if there would be fuel storage on-site. G. Scarlat said the only fuel on the site would be that stored within the trucks themselves.
- Welch asked what facilities would be within the shop. G. Scarlat said that there would be two doors for the trucks and one or two man-doors for people access. There would be an office for himself, a break room for the mechanic, and a toilet.
- Welch asked if trucks would be able to turn right onto the southbound lane of Route 2 without pulling into northbound traffic. G. Scarlat said that U.S. 2 had a full breakdown lane, plus Lavin Lane was wide. The truck would need about 32 feet to make the turn. He said a right turn would not be a problem and pointed to Island Racing next door, which also has tractor-trailer traffic.
Not hearing further questions from the Board, D. Patterson opened the meeting to the public. M. Taylor-Varney said that Sandy Greg and David Roy were present to provide input from the Planning Commission.
- Roy said that he was concerned about the potential mix of uses on the property – that the use of a trucking terminal would not mix well with other permitted uses for the village like retail or restaurant. S. Gregg said that the first parcel developed does set a tone for the future of the development, that the proposed use of trucking terminal is not included in Table 2.1 for a reason, and that the development backs up onto residential properties and she was concerned about the potential for noise and visual pollution.
- Scarlat asked S. Gregg how she would see the compatibility of the development of Lot 1 as a restaurant and Lot 3 as a motor vehicle repair facility (allowed as conditional use). S. Gregg said the potential exists for the lots to also be developed as residences, and the problem with the propose use as a trucking terminal would discourage other permitted uses. D. Roy said that his concern was the size of vehicles mixing in with cars and bicycles. S. Greg said the purpose of the village district was to have a bike able, walkable community, and the propose use seemed out of scale with what is currently going on in the village.
- Patterson asked for the people who submitted written responses to read their response. Bridget Kerr read the letter submitted by herself and her husband Doug Kerr. M. Taylor-Varney read the letter submitted by Kathleen Swanson. L. Kilcoyne made a motion to have the letters entered into the record; N. Hayward seconded. The motion passed by acclamation.
Anne Quinn said that she was concerned that with large trucks there would be noise, and that people who might want to buy lots in the development might be put off by the presence of a trucking facility. She said that twenty trucks seemed like a lot of trucks for the area. She said she could hear noise from the existing Island Raceway facility.
Jim Falby said that his concerns were in line with the Kerrs and Anne Quinn. He said that he had no opposition to small retail or housing, but the noise from Island Racing was unbearable and he was not interested in having more trucks come into the area. He encouraged the Board to reject the application.
Cinthia Spence said that she lived right across from the property and was concerned about the noise. She said that Island Racing was unbearable a lot of the time and encouraged the Board to come up with a more compatible use.
Michele Gammal of the Planning Board said that she agreed with remarks that had already been made by other Planning Board members.
Sharon Chadwick said that she appreciated what Mr. Scarlat was trying to do and wished him well but she did not feel that it was the right fit for South Hero.
Not hearing further questions or remarks, D. Patterson closed the hearing at 8:13 p.m.
Hearing: #19-62-RT456 (20-54-RT456) Conditional Use and Site Plan Review for expansion of DRB decision #19-62-RT456 Blue Paddle
- Patterson opened the hearing at 8:23 p.m.
Notice & Oath
- Taylor-Varney read the hearing warning. D. Patterson administered the oath to the attending members of the public.
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
Mandy Hotchkiss and Paul Hendler (Blue Paddle); Mike & Michelle Gammal (Keeler Bay Associates)
Mandy Hotchkiss said that Keeler Bay Associates had previously been granted condition use for the operation of a food truck on their property at Keeler Bay Marina. Blue Paddle has been selected as the food truck vendor for the site. What the applicants now sought was approval for a 40’ x 40’ outdoor deck and a hut to provide bar service to be erected on the site on the bay side of the hill, to overlook the marina and Keeler Bay. The deck would seat patrons served by the foot truck.
The applicant plans to provide musical entertainment approximately three nights per week.
The deck would be mounted on three shipping containers set into the hillside and would be accessed from the food truck parking area via a walkway. The walkway enters the deck flush with the hillside to permit handicap access. A railing will be provided around the deck for patron safety.
Mike Gammal said that because the deck was on the bay side of the hill, it would not be visible from the road and would have minimal impact on the community.
- Brightwell asked if barbecue would be available, as it had been promised during the original application. M. Hotchkiss said that barbecue would be on the menu, and said that the food truck had a full kitchen that included a wood-burning pizza oven and would be able to serve dishes ranging from burgers and fries to lobster rolls, steaks, pulled pork, pizza, etc. M. Hotchkiss said that the food truck was essential to her business because in the near future she may not be able to serve as many people inside the restaurant. Michele Gammal said that Keeler Bay Associates was glad to be making the choice of a business partner that kept the solution local. Paul Hendler said that the Blue Paddle planned to feature ingredients from local farms.
- Patterson said that this was a two-step review: 1) conditional use, and 2) site plan. J. Brightwell asked to confirm that what was different from the original approval was the outdoor dining area. D. Patterson said that the difference was the deck, the bar, restaurant style seating, and music.
- Brightwell asked if the operating hours would be the same as the original application. M. Taylor-Varney said that there were minor changes in the application. The new application specified business hours of 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. whereas the original application hours were 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. M. Hotchkiss said that they were planning on closing at 10:00 p.m. but were requesting until 11:00 to provide time for cleanup.
- Taylor-Varney asked if the food truck would have its own fresh water. M. Hotchkiss said yes. M. Taylor-Varney asked if there would be more than one port-o-let provided. M. Hotchkiss said that she had called the State and had a meeting with them scheduled for next week and would seek and follow their recommendation.
- Kilcoyne asked how many patrons the deck would accommodate. Mike Gammal said that they were asking approval for a stage area that would not be immediately constructed. On the deck itself the seating would be variable according to what the State permitted under social distancing regulations.
- Brightwell asked about the number of patrons that could be accommodated after we all get vaccinated. He recalled that the number of approved parking spaces in the food truck area was forty. M. Hotchkiss said that 50% of the business would be take-away, 20% would be delivery, and the balance would be outdoor dining. She said that she didn’t have any idea what the ultimate post-pandemic business would be. J. Brightwell said that he was looking beyond the pandemic and noted that there was considerable parking in the food truck lot and in the marina, and that there was considerable upside potential.
- Hotchkiss said that they were trying to expand their business by providing a unique South Hero location and an affordable menu.
- Kilcoyne asked about the location of the food truck. Mike Gammal said that the proposed location of the food truck had been moved to the middle of the lot to be closer to the deck. He said the lot had been graded and space for twenty places had been graveled. The path would go from the truck across the hill to provide access to both the marina and the deck. He noted they had put a rock divider between the parking area and Route 2 to prevent cars from entering or exiting outside of the designated entrance as was required by the original conditional approval.
- Brightwell asked if the deck was elevated. Mike Gammal said that the containers were placed into the hill so that they were elevated on the east (downhill) side but were at grade level on the west (uphill) side where they would be accessed from the path to the food truck. He said they were 8’ high storage containers, so that it was about an 8’ rise over the container’s 40’ length.
- Hayward asked if the containers were already in place. M. Gammal said yes.
- Brightwell asked what the plan was to prevent patrons from falling off of the deck. M. Gammal said that the deck would be encircled with railings.
- Hayward asked if there was a plan to put in a roof or tent covering. M. Gammal said that they had engineered the site to permit this but did not have immediate plans.
- Rowe asked at what point the facility becomes a restaurant. Mike Gammal said that was up to the Health Department.
- Hayward asked if there would be seating on the deck. Mike Gammal said yes, and also in the surrounding area.
Paul Hendler said that he didn’t see it becoming a restaurant due to its seasonality.
- Kilcoyne asked about visibility of the facility from the lake. Michele Gammal said that if you’re on the deck, you can see the lake, but if you’re on the lake, you don’t really notice the deck because it’s beyond the campers and a considerable distance from the lake itself. Paul Hendler said that the material choices were also made to blend in with the environment.
- Patterson said that he thought the site plan should have the floor elevation of the deck, and the setback from the adjacent property. M. Gammal said that the Montani’s owned the adjacent property, and the shipping containers were 15’ in from the property line. M. Taylor-Varney said that the setback required by regulation was 15’ (and later corrected herself to note that the setback for accessory structures in the Lake District was 5’).
- Kilcoyne asked where the portable toilets would be. Mike Gammal said that they would be nearby but the final location had not been decided. He said there would likely be at least one along the pathway between the truck and the deck, and that they would meet with the state to figure that out. D. Patterson said that the number and location of the port-o-lets should be shown on the site plan for completeness.
- Brightwell asked if the elevation would also show the railing height. Mike Gammal said that he wanted the flexibility to design that later according to business needs once conditional approval was given. J. Brightwell said that maybe the Board could provide a decision on conditional use and then continue the hearing for the site plan so that it was in full possession of all required details on the site plan when it provided approval. M. Hotchkiss said that there was building code for commercial space that would be followed in the construction.
- Hayward said that the things the Board needs to have for a complete site plan are the floor elevations for the deck, some setbacks from the boundaries to the deck, and locations for port-a-lets. D. Patterson said that those were the items that he was looking for. N. Hayward said that the applicant just needed to provide a number for the floor elevation. After discussion, the Board concluded that the height of the shipping containers was 145’; the finished elevation would be slightly higher to include the height of the deck.
- Hotchkiss said that the State would not specify where the port-o-lets would need to be placed, but would tell them what number they needed. D. Patterson said that’s why he was asking – if they tell you six, the Board wants to know on the site plan where you are putting them.
- Kilcoyne said she didn’t know if the applicant was going to need a dumpster, but if they have one, the Board would like to know its location. M. Taylor-Varney said the regulations require specifying where the dumpster is. L. Kilcoyne said that the Board would likely want to see it screened, and the applicant needed to consider that it needs to be emptied periodically.
Mike Gammal said that with regard to the site plan, it’s about expediency because he’s trying to open by July 1st since the season is so short.
- Hendler asked when the next opportunity was to provide the items missing from the site plan. D. Patterson said this is the 10th of June and you’re planning to open July 1st; the Board is not scheduled for another meeting until June 24th and has 45 days to provide a decision. D. Patterson noted that the applicant is ready to go with the food truck as it was previously approved. D. Patterson asked when the trailer was ordered; Paul Hendler said they finalized the trailer order two months ago.
- Welch asked the applicant to show on the site plan the barriers between the parking area and Route 2.
- Taylor-Varney suggested that if the applicant can provide an updated site plan with the missing information, within the next two weeks, the Board may be able to deliberate on the 24th and provide a decision. Paul Hendler said they would definitely be able to provide the information by next meeting if the Board could deliberate on the 24th.
- Brightwell said to clarify for the minutes, the applicant proposes to provide the information missing from the site plan in advance of the 24th, and the Board agrees to provide a decision on the 24th in its deliberative session. There was general agreement on this point.
- Rowe asked how the grey water would be handled from the bar in the hut. Paul Hendler said that there would be a containment box in the bar.
- Patterson opened the meeting to the public for comment. Jessica Montani asked if the facility would be summer-only or year-round, and asked how many days per week the music would occur, pointing out that it was near her house.
Mandy Hotchkiss said that they regularly have music at the Blue Paddle, which is near Bill Fifield’s house. The music is folk-music style and has not been a problem – they have never gotten one complain in over 15 years. Mandy clarified that it would be June through September, the second week of October at the latest. Mike Gammal said the operating dates of the marina were the middle of May through the middle of October. Mandy said they don’t start the music until late May and close typically by October.
- Taylor-Varney asked the applicant to define dates for what they consider “seasonal.” She said that the original application for the food truck was for May 1st through October 31st. Mike Gammal said he would like to amend the time period to start April 1st and finish October 31st. Mandy Hotchkiss and Paul Hendler agreed. Mike Gammal asked if they had a special event in the winter how it would be handled. D. Patterson recommended the applicant ask for a limited number of special events outside of the approved hours. Mike Gammal said that although he had no immediate plans, he would like to ask for a half dozen special events outside of the operating season not to exceed three days each. Paul Hendler agreed.
- Hayward suggested that if the applicant had plans for a tent-type cover over the deck that they also put this in the site plan that would be submitted in time for the Board’s deliberation.
- Taylor-Varney said that there were no lights shown on the site plan, and asked if the Board wanted lighting shown on the site plan. Mike Gammal said that if they did lights, they would be solar-powered downward-facing lighting. M. Taylor-Varney said that finding #5 on the previous approval for the food truck was that lighting would be on the truck and would be downward facing, and that food would be served only during daylight hours. She suggested that now that food would be served after dark and that the dining area was expanded and in a different area that lighting should be shown.
- Hunt suggested that the applicant should provide all of the information specified in Table 3.1 of the regulations as applicable.
- Kilcoyne made a motion to accept the site plan as incomplete, with the expectation that the missing elements would be provided in an updated plan provided by the applicant in time for the next Board meeting on June 24th. W. Rowe seconded. The motion passed by acclamation.
Hearing no further questions from the Board or audience, D. Patterson closed the hearing at 9:45 p.m.
Review of Minutes
- Maxham moved to accept the minutes of March 11, 2020. The motion was seconded by G. Hunt and approved by acclamation.
The Administrator’s Report was delivered by Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator).
- June 24th one hearing is scheduled for a variance request. The proposal is to hold the meeting in person, outdoors if possible.
- July 8 there will be two hearings: 1) a waiver request for setback for a parcel in the Shoreland district 2) a site plan revision for MKN Community Lane development to expand parking.
- July 22 Wagner final plat approval.
- Taylor-Varney said that in response to requests she had unsuccessfully tried to obtain larger space for June 24th at Folsom School and at the Library. After discussion, the Board agreed that the hearing on the 24th could be held with some people attending in person, and those who wished to be remote attend via Zoom. G. Hunt said that he would bring in an Xbox to provide a wider-angle webcam. In person attendees would need to notify M. Taylor-Varney so that she could ensure that social distancing guidelines are met.
Motion to adjourn
- Kilcoyne moved to adjourn the business meeting. The motion was seconded by D. Patterson and carried by acclamation. The meeting was adjourned at 9:58 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.