TOWN OF SOUTH HERO
Planning Commission with Zoning Board of Adjustment
October 8, 2014 Meeting Minutes – Draft
Planning Commission Members Present: George (Terry) Delano, Doug Patterson, Sandra O’Flaherty, Sandy Gregg and David Roy
Planning Commission members absent: None
Zoning Board of Adjustment members present: Timothy Maxham, Gwen Hobbs, Paula Delano, Alayne Rabow, George Rice (7:05) and Jim Baker (7:15)
Zoning Board of Adjustment members absent: Steven Nedde and Courtland Perry
Staff Present: Mitchel Cypes
Others present from the sign in sheet: Jon Quackenbush, Linda Quackenbush, Linda Livingstone, Robert Livingstone, Erika Quackenbush, Richard Swinchoski, Valerie Swinchoski, Mary Kingston Jackson, Leslie Bashaw, Robert Bashaw, Kristin Decatur, Chris Howe, Katelyn Evermann, Liam Murphy, Richard Dow, Maureen Pidgin, Alan Pidgin, John Federico, Joseph Farnham, Beth Farr and Joshua Nase.
7:01PM: Call to order by Tim Maxham. A moment of silence was held for Alan Kinney, who died on Monday, October 6th, at age 92. He operated Kinney Farm and Orchard on South Street, started the South Hero Fire Department in 1953 and was Fire Chief for 40 years and was a former Selectboard member and chair.
7:03PM Additions or Deletions to the Agenda: The Zoning Board of Adjustment decided to move agenda item number 7 to be part of agenda item number 2.
7:06PM: Continuance from September 3, 2014; RT238-15-15B, Pest Pro, Inc. c/o Jon Quackenbush, Conditional Use and Site Plan Review to convert an existing single family dwelling to a professional services office. Gwen Hobbs gave oath. Jon Quackenbush submitted the following letters and testified the following:
- A letter from Chris Herrick, Vermont Division of Fire Safety Central Office, Chief of the Hazmat Response Team, stating there has been no pesticide spills or misuse of chemicals from his business.
- A letter and a map of the wetlands from Danielle Owezarski, District Wetland Ecologist, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, who visited the Livingstone and Swinchoski properties and found that Shed #2 is not in the wetland buffer, but Mr. Swinchoski’s house was in the wetland buffer. Ms. Owezarski stated that there were no wetland concerns on the Livingstone property or on any of the proposed work. Also according to the Applicant, Ms Owezarski stated that the wetland boundary was located further from shed #2 than was shown on the survey by Mr. Tudhope.
- A letter dated 9/11/14 from Wendy Anderson, enforcement coordinator of the Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, stating that through 15 inspections starting in 1999 Mr. Quackenbush’s company has operated in compliance to regulations without any problems. Mr. Quackenbush mentioned that he was informed by Ms. Anderson that she had been contacted by Mr. Swinchoski.
Mr. Quackenbush reviewed items submitted after the last hearing and in advance of this hearing and testified the following:
- He showed the elevations of proposed rebuilt shed as requested by the Boards. He testified that in the reconstructed 16’x20’ shed #1 will be a secured 8’x10’ room that will secure their pest control treatments. Shed #1 will be heated and insulated. Shed #2 will store bulk items like ladders and will have a workshop.
- He showed the updated site plan, which shows the entire property. The plan shows a change of location and size of the proposed parking. The gravel parking area by shed #2 has been eliminated and replaced by larger parking area adjacent and to the east of Heritage Drive, which is designed to accommodate any proposed need. It appears that approximately half of the proposed parking area increase had once been a gravel parking area. He testified that the trees just north of the proposed parking area are to remain.
- Photos of the Heritage Drive and U.S. Route 2 intersection were shown. The Applicant explained that he is proposing to prune the existing trees and clear some undergrowth to improve visibility. When asked by the Boards, he stated that he did not contact AOT as previously requested. He stated his belief that there is no change of traffic.
- The tank filling area was shown on the plans and discussed. If there was a spill, which is defined by the Department of Agriculture, it would be on gravel.
- An indentation on to the property along the southern boundary is for an AOT maintained culvert.
- Justin Willis, who is a licensed site designer, will apply for the change of wastewater use.
- To the Applicant’s and his surveyor’s knowledge, the Heritage Drive right-of-way is not defined.
- The Applicant testified that he will not move the pesticide product until shed #1 is rebuilt.
- The Applicant testified that he would like to begin construction as soon as it is permitted, weather permitting, and plans to have all the improvements completed before the end of 2015.
7:24PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #9, two building elevations depicting the proposed reconstruction of shed #1 was made by George Rice, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.
7:26PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #10, a survey from David Tudhope dated 9/26/14 that shows the entire Livingston property that is to be conveyed to Mr. Quackenbush, which included the items requested at the last hearing, was made by George Rice, seconded by Paula Delano and approved unanimously.
7:27PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #11, three photos showing the Heritage Drive and US2 intersection and addressing concerns raised was made by Paula Delano, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.
7:28PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #12, a letter dated 9/11/14 from Wendy Anderson, enforcement coordinator of the Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, stating the Applicants have operated in compliance to regulations was made by Gwen Hobbs, seconded by Doug Patterson and approved unanimously.
7:29PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #13, a 4 page document including a letter and a map of the wetlands from Danielle Owezarski, District Wetland Ecologist, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, dated 10/8/14, addressing the wetlands issue and providing their opinion on the project was made by Gwen Hobbs, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.
7:30PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #14, a letter, dated 10/8/14, from Chris Herrick, Vermont Division of Fire Safety Central Office, Chief of the Hazmat Response Team, stating there have been no pesticide spills or misuse of chemicals on the site, was made by Gwen Hobbs, seconded by Sandra O’Flaherty and approved unanimously.
7:33PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #15, Applicant’s letter, received on 10/8/14, describing how he plans to improve visibility at the U.S. Route 2 and Heritage Drive intersection associated with the photographs accepted in exhibit #11, was made by Gwen Hobbs, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.
7:35PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #16, an updated letter describing the proposed change of use for 238 U.S. Route 2, received 10/8/14, was made by Doug Patterson, seconded by Terry Delano and approved unanimously.
7:37PM Public Comment:
- Liam Murphy introduced himself as an attorney with Murphy Sullivan and Kronk representing four of the neighbors, Leslie and Robert Bashaw, Richard and Valerie Swinchoski, John and Maria Cryan and Betsy Jackson. He stated that the Zoning Board of Adjustment is required in a Conditional Use application to evaluate the factors of traffic and character of area.
- Regarding character of the area, Mr. Murphy questioned whether the proposed location was the right location for a pest control company. He submitted a letter from Fire District #4 requesting a 3000 foot isolation distance, where homeowners should not be allowed to use pesticides on lawns (see exhibit #17). Mr. Murphy explained that 9 properties use a water intake located in Lake Champlain near where the stream that is on the Livingstone property enters Lake Champlain. They are concerned that any spill will contaminate the stream and affect their water. He added that the mixing area on the gravel driveway was within the isolation distance. He also questioned where the waste process water goes when it leaves the tank and whether waste process water could end up in the stream. He stated that the dry cleaner chemical PERC (Perchloroethylene) is so toxic that 5 gallons could contaminate all of Lake Champlain.
Asked by the Boards, Mr. Quackenbush stated that his current business location is closer to the Fire District #4 intake than the Livingstone residence is to the Heritage Drive water intake. He explained that water from mixing treatments is not put into drains but that the mixes stay in the tanks until completely used. He stated that the pesticides coming off the farm across the street are much greater than any type of contaminant his company could produce. He explained that the toxic pesticides have been off the market for a long time because of landowner misuse. He testified that the greatest concentration on a treatment is 7.9% with the remaining liquid being water and that the tanks on the trucks ranges from 50 to 100 gallons in size. He said that his technicians are all licensed and that there are fines and jail time for misuse of the products. When asked by the Boards, he said he would be willing to place a concrete pad where products would be mixed and in the event of a spill, the chemicals could be soaked up with agents and disposed of in a dumpster.
The Boards asked Mr. Murphy if the water system was publically licensed and when the last time the water in the system was tested. Mr. Murphy indicated that the size of the system was small enough that it did not require a license. Mr. Murphy and the Heritage Drive residents in attendance were not aware of any time when the water system was tested.
- Mr. Murphy provided letters from Bill Lawrence and David Dinsmore (See exhibit #17) requesting that the land not be designated as commercial. The Boards clarified that this application was a change of use and not a change of zoning.
- Mr. Murphy stated that the residents were concerned that the driveway entrance was not wide enough for two way traffic. He stated that the Vermont Agency of Transportation standards require that commercial curb cuts be 24 feet wide at the entrance going back at least 2 car lengths.
- Mr. Murphy also requested that vegetative screening be placed to reduce the parking areas visibility from Heritage Drive and US2, that parking be reviewed by the Town and that the Applicant be required to return for additional approvals should the use of the property change.
Other Public Input
- Leslie Bashaw stated that stormwater runoff settles at the camp they own and is worried that chemicals placed in the dumpster will get into the stormwater that settles at her camp. She stated that Orkin in South Burlington that has a container the size of the hearing room protected by barb wire. She is concerned about vandalism especially in the ‘off season’ and the effect his business would have on the single lane right-of-way. She also made a request for landscaping. Mr. Quackenbush responded by explaining that he used to work for Orkin and that it is their policy to protect property from vandalism. Trucks in his business usually leave the property at night.
- Alan Pidgin testified that he owns the building where Orkin is located and that the gates are often not locked.
- Richard Swinchoski testified that his property has been a year round residence since 1984 and that only 3 vehicles have parked at the house in the past. He stated that he believes the additional traffic will destroy the road, and that the new parking area would triple stormwater runoff. He also said he wants a larger road entrance built. He stated that he wants a condition that no washing of trucks be permitted on the property and that no business sign be permitted. He said that he is concerned about protecting the 50-foot wetland buffer and that his house, which was rebuilt in the same location that the previous house existed, is grandfathered in the 50-foot wetland buffer. He also stated that he does not worry about the fact that his water has not been tested.
- Valerie Swinchoski expressed her concern regarding the effect on drainage by the mixing of treatments in trucks in the gravel areas.
- Joe Farnum expressed his support for the project. He is the landowner and resident of 1 Hill Road. He is not aware of any traffic or pesticide concerns with the existing business. His son has worked for the company, which has not been a concern for them. He knows that every employee working for Pest Pro is trained and licensed. The business belongs on US2, which has a lot of traffic.
- John Federico testified that he has lived adjacent to Mr. & Mrs. Quackenbush on Hill Road for 14 years and there has never been a problem with traffic or pesticides from the business and that the Quackenbushes are excellent neighbors.
- Harry Jackson testified that he has lived on Heritage Drive year round for 26 years, his water is taken from the lake and is treated with a UV system and is tested. He stated his concern regarding use of his mailbox, which is located adjacent to US Route 2 and believes the road needs to be much wider.
- Bob Bashaw explained that water flows along the edge on the east side of Heritage Drive.
- Chris Howe wanted to understand why the residents are now concerned with water quality, but have not in the past been concerned with farm pesticides, oils from cars, road salts, excessive stormwater runoff, excessive traffic and the quality of their drinking water.
- Linda Quackenbush introduced herself as co-owner since 2001, that they never had a problem with traffic, that the EPA is the most regulated agency in the world, that farms discharge more pesticides to the lake. She explained that she wants the business moved out of her house.
- Richard Dowd expressed concern about the potential increase in pesticide exposure to the lake.
- Bob Livingston introduced himself as the current owner of the property. He stated that the house has been vacant since May, so almost all of the traffic is coming from the Heritage Drive land owners. Also if the driveway needs to be widened, the camp owners are required to increase the roadway.
- Mary Kingston Jackson stated that about 25 to 30 years ago a storm pipe to drain water to the stream to the east of the property was placed, but did not fix the stormwater situation.
Regarding the visual effect of the business on the surrounding neighbors, Mr. Quackenbush provided photographs showing how the business will look to the camps approximately 1100 feet away.
The Boards got a clarification that there are no stormwater cross drains on Heritage Drive and that Heritage Drive is crowned, which displaces stormwater to the edges of the roadway. The Boards noted that the stormwater issue has existed and could have been at least partially mitigated by the placement of culverts on Mr. & Mrs. Swinchoski’s property and that 5 additional parking spaces will not create a stormwater problem. Broadening the entrance, which many Heritage Drive residents stated they wanted to have done, would add impervious surface area and cause more stormwater runoff.
The Boards also noted that traffic problems exist and are not sure how this proposed business might impact traffic. Good neighbors should work together to find solutions to these problems. There is concern as to how the Agency of Transportation might modify the entrance for its permit approval.
9:18PM: A motion to accept as evidence, exhibit #17, letters each from Lawrence and Dinsmore, and a notice from South Hero District #4 provided by Liam Murphy, was made by Paula Delano, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.
9:20PM: A motion to continue the hearing on November 12, 2014, at 7:00PM was made by George Rice, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.
9:22PM: Public Input: No Public input was presented.
The Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings separated.
9:30PM: A motion was made to approve the Minutes for October 1, 2014 by Sandy Gregg, seconded by Doug Patterson and was approved unanimously.
The Commission deliberated application FR015-15-01B-Cota Family Partnership.
10:10PM: A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Sandra O’Flaherty, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.
Respectfully submitted by Mitchel Cypes, Administrative Officer with assistance from David Roy.