Development Review Board Minutes 03-26-2018

CITY OF VERGENNES

DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD

MINUTES

REGULAR MEETING

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2018

Members Present: Peter Garon, Brent Rakowski, Tim Cook, Jason Mullin, Steve Rapoport, Alternate Member Lowell Bertrand

Members Absent: Jason Farrell, Don Peabody

Meeting Guests: Brett Simison, Amy Yuen, Connor Simison, Charlotte Simison,

Samantha Dunn, Elise Shanbacker, Jean Terwilliger, Andrea Murray, Derick Read, Joan Devine, James McClay, Roger Norton,

Wally Howard, Ralph Wenzel, Paul Paquin, Carl Cole, Roderick Cole, John Cole, Leonard Duffy, Carolyn Duffy, Dan Pflaster

Present: Zoning Administrator Mel Hawley

The Development Review Board conducted a site visit at 15 Victory Street at 6:45 p.m.

The regular meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. Peter Garon advised the agenda will be officially amended to accommodate a request by Zoning Administrator Hawley to discuss a revised subdivision plat for the recently approved subdivision involving the property of Scott Hardy on Green Street.

  1. Brett Simison and Amy Yuen, 15 Victory Street, Demolition of Accessory Structure in Historic Neighborhood District (see Section 1604.F.11)

Peter Garon read the public hearing notice and swore in the applicant. Brett Simison explained their plans to tear down a deteriorated accessory structure on their property. He said the roof is leaking, windows are falling out, and the foundation is no longer stable. Brett mentioned that at some point, they plan to construct a garage easterly of the current location of the existing structure. He said that given the poor condition of the building, it is no longer functional. He said they have been unable to determine the age of the structure but felt it did not contribute to the historic or architectural character of the district. Zoning Administrator Hawley said that he also was unsuccessful in determining the age of the structure using old maps on file in the City Clerk’s office. Tim Cook advised Brett to be aware of the specific standards for the Historic Neighborhood District relative to mass and scale and appropriate roof pitch. Brett said that he would definitely see that the design of a new building would be in keeping with the neighborhood. With no further testimony, Tim Cook moved to close the public hearing and that Zoning Administrator Hawley be directed to draft an affirmative decision for review at the next meeting. The motion was seconded by Brent Rakowski with all voting in favor.

2.  Public Hearing – H.V. 2005, Inc., Housing Vermont/Addison County Community Trust, Armory Lane, Multiple-family Dwelling, Site Plan Review, Conditional Use Review, Local Act 250 Review

Prior to opening the public hearing Peter Garon informed the attendees there was a recent article in the Addison Independent about this project which disturbed him when quoted as saying there were no flaws with the application. He said he should have been much more careful with his words as his intention was to simply say that the application had been deemed complete by the Board and ready for a public hearing. He said the article also referenced that the Board would undoubtedly be hearing from other interested people. He said what was meant by that was the Board will act on the application based on the regulations, evidence, and testimony at the public hearing and wanted to confirm his impartiality in this matter.

Peter Garon then outlined the process that once the public hearing is opened, the applicant will give an overview of the project and testimony should be directed to the Board as the public hearing is not a “question and answer” session with the applicant.

Peter Garon read the public notice and swore in the representatives of the applicant, a number of members of the American Legion Post 14, adjacent property owners Roderick Cole, John Cole, their representative Carl Cole, and Joan Devine, who owns and resides at the property located at the northeasterly intersection of Monkton Road and Armory Lane. Samantha Dunn, a project manager for Housing Vermont, introduced the project team involving the construction of a multiple-family dwelling containing twenty-four dwelling units and associated site improvements at the property owned by H.V. 2005, Inc. located on the northwesterly side of an extension of Armory Lane. She explained that unlike the senior housing project they constructed a number of years ago, this project would not be age-restrictive. Samantha Dunn of Housing Vermont, Jean Terwilliger and Andrea Murray of Vermont Integrated Architecture, PC presented the existing conditions plan, overall site plan showing the entire parcel, a more detailed site plan of the project area, landscaping plan, erosion control plan, a series of civil details, elevation drawings, and the lighting plan. Andrea Murray said that the need for housing is critical and the proposed project attempt to fulfill some of this need by providing affordable, healthy, apartments with easy access to schools and services. Jean Terwilliger outlined the various site constraints which include wetlands and steep slopes. She said those constraints left a very narrow building envelope. She explained their desire that every dwelling unit have access to sunshine sometime during the day. She then went over the elevations drawings reporting that the northerly portion of the building would have three stories and the southerly portion would have two stories. She noted that the parking lot shows development of 37 parking spaces. She also pointed to a generated image of what the building will look like from the east. Roderick Cole asked about the capacity of Armory Lane as he and his brother own developable lots along the road as well. Joan Devine expressed concern with the increase of traffic on Armory Lane. She felt the traffic study last done in 2009 did not take into account actual traffic using the road to and from the American Legion, the senior housing building, not to mention the proposed development and child care facility planned on the adjacent lot in the future. She said the other accesses to the parcel had been eliminated and had hoped that a road would have been developed to Main Street which is now cut off by the stormwater detention pond so now all traffic from this area must use Armory Lane. Ralph Wenzel said that the existing road is privately owned and should be upgraded to City standards to accommodate total build-out of the area. He also remarked that the sidewalk is not being properly maintained. Paul Paquin said that the American Legion was told that future development would be for seniors only. He felt the proposal is not a good mix as unrestricted-age housing will result in music, dogs, and increased traffic. He went on to make five additional points. The first being about Creekview Apartments located at the end of Hillside Acres which is comparable to the proposed project. He said that development requires a police presence and there is nobody governing the complex. His second point was that given that the proposed location of the building at 92 feet from the common boundary with Kennedy Bros., Inc. that it be moved to a resulting setback of 33 feet. His third point was that the number of parking spaces for the existing senior housing building is already not sufficient and that the proposed development needs a minimum of 50 parking spaces. His fourth point is the applicant should be required to construct a solid fence to keep dogs and kids off American Legion property. His fifth and final point was that the existing road and sidewalk will likely be damaged during construction and that the applicant should be required to repave all of Armory Lane to the American Legion lower parking lot. Roderick Cole asked about solar generating equipment. No ground-mounted equipment is planned. Roof-mounted equipment is incorporated in the plan and the applicant explained that much of the equipment would be shielded by the parapet. Ralph Wenzel remarked that the building should be re-oriented or sited more to the east so that it does not block the view from the porch of the American Legion. Carl Cole asked about the height of the building which was confirmed to be less than the maximum height of 35 feet and whether there was any landscaping planned to block headlights from vehicles entering and exiting the parking spaces. Roger Norton said that residents and guests of the senior housing building are not allowed to smoke on their property and they end up going to the American Legion parking lot to smoke which is not right. The applicant noted that the proposed project will not be smoke-free and that they are currently revisiting the policy at the senior housing building. Carl Cole asked about ownership and maintenance of the existing shared road. Samantha Dunn explained that the road is on property of the Armory Lane Housing Limited Partnership which is the senior housing building property. Zoning Administrator Hawley suggested the applicant provide all legal documents related to the ownership and maintenance of the road. James McClay, whose mother resides in the senior housing building, said that development is inevitable but there has been little communication with the residents as many think that the proposed project is exclusively for seniors as promised by Senator Bernie Sanders. Zoning Administrator Hawley noted that this subdivision has a State Land Use Permit and therefore Local Act 250 Review is required. Jean Terwilliger said that they have a letter from the fire department and the superintendent of schools. She said Vergennes Area Rescue Squad has been contacted but a letter had not yet been received. She also remarked that the desire expressed by some of the attendees that the building be located further to the east, due to adequate access and turning radius for the ladder truck and to provide space for stormwater management, the building could not be moved to the east. Peter Garon then asked for questions or comments from the Board. Brent Rakowski reminded the applicant that a letter from the rescue squad is needed. He also said that the image from the east was very helpful and that an image from Main Street would be equally important. He suggested the applicant consider the concerns expressed about headlights and consider a revision to the landscaping plan. And lastly, he noted that this parcel is part of a previously approved subdivision which called for a maintained pedestrian path to Main Street and to the Shaw’s/Kinney Drugs shopping center. Paul Paquin said that American Legion members plow to Kinney Drugs for the seniors. Given the degree of testimony, the Board suggested that a site visit would be valuable. Steve Rapoport moved to continue the public hearing on April 16, 2018 at 7 p.m. provided the applicant submits an appropriate letter from the rescue squad and legal documentation relative to ownership and the responsibility of maintenance of the privately-owned road by March 30, 2018 and that a site visit be conducted in advance of the meeting at 6:30 p.m. The motion was second by Lowell Bertrand with all voting in favor.

3.  Leonard and Carolyn Duffy, West Main Street, Multiple-family Dwelling, Preliminary Site Plan Review

Leonard Duffy explained that he and his wife have owned a parcel and on the south side of West Main Street just west of the bridge over the Otter Creek for approximately thirty-five years. He said they had always thought it would be a great place for a restaurant but has been unable to get a prospective developer and is now pursuing possible development of the parcel for residential. He presented a preliminary site plan that shows three buildings. Four dwelling units would be within each building. The third building would be an accessory structure for residents’ personal vehicles. The Board advised Mr. Duffy that the regulations prohibit accessory structures from being in front of the front face of the principal building. Also, such structures are not allowed to be the dominant feature. Mr. Duffy noted that the existing sewer main that runs through the middle of the property requires one of the buildings to be less than fifty feet from the river. The performance standards for a subdivision prohibit development within fifty feet of the river but since this is not a subdivision, that prohibition does not apply. The balance of the discussion was focused on potential development within the flood plain. Mr. Duffy said that the base elevation of all dwelling units would be above base flood elevation. Zoning Administrator Hawley said that upon receipt of a formal application, he is require to notify the state for their review regarding development in or near the floodplain. Mr. Duffy thanked the Board for their input.

4.  Pflaster Investments, LLC (Owner), Zhen Ting and Ling Lee (Applicant), 10 Main Street, Change Use of Portion of First Floor from Office to Restaurant and Construct Addition for Restaurant, Site Plan Review, Conditional Use Review

Dan Pflaster said that he attended to meeting as he thought the applicant and their real estate broker would be attending regarding their development plans upon purchasing his property. An application and fee was submitted which contained some of the information required but was deemed incomplete and insufficient for scheduling a public hearing.

Steve Rapoport left the meeting at this time (10:20 p.m.)

5.  Doug Hawley and Mel Hawley, 185 Main Street/6 Green Street,
Business Signs for “NFP Insurance” and “lu·lu Ice Cream”

Zoning Administrator Hawley explained that normally he would act on business signs, but in this instance, he said that since he is a part owner of the property, he has an obvious conflict of interest and asked the Development Review Board to pass judgement in this regard. Information was submitted by a sign consultant for NFP Insurance regarding re-facing the two business signs of Foote’s Insurance Agency which recently sold to NFP Insurance. The re-facing plans show green letters on a white background for both signs. Brent Rakowski said that NFP Insurance may fall under the classification of a “formula business” and, if so, the regulations provide authority for the Board to require adjustments to signage and mitigate contrasting color schemes and harmonize signage with the surrounding character of the area. It was felt that white letters on a green background would be more appropriate for the downtown. The Board took no action and asked Zoning Administrator Hawley to attempt to persuade them to change their proposal. As for “lu·lu Ice Cream”, Laura Mack submitted pictures of the large ice cream cone that hung in front of her shop in Bristol. The Board was unsure whether this was appropriate for the downtown and took no action.

6.  Review and accept minutes of previous meeting

The minutes to the regular meeting of February 19, 2018 were deferred to the next meeting.

7.  Scott Hardy, Green Street, Revised Subdivision Plat

Zoning Administrator Hawley reported that Scott Hardy has a prospective purchaser of Lot B and Lot C in his three-lot subdivision on Green Street. The subdivision approval called for Lot C to merge with either Lot A, Lot B, or with any other adjacent parcel. The attorney for the prospective purchaser would like a subdivision plat recorded that reflects the merger of Lot B and Lot C. Zoning Administrator presented the revised plat as described which contains a place for the signature of the chair for the Development Review Board for recording in the City Clerk’s office. Zoning Administrator Hawley said he did not see this as an amendment to a previously approved subdivision but rather permanent evidence that the condition of approval has been met. The Board concurred and Tim Cook moved to authorize Chair Peter Garon to sign the subdivision plat on behalf of the Board. The motion was seconded by Lowell Bertrand with all voting in favor.

8.  Other Business – deferred

9.  Report of the Zoning Administrator– deferred

10.  Adjournment

At 10:50 p.m., Lowell Bertrand made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded by Tim Cook with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley

Acting Recording Secretary