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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
802-496-3928
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A financial benefit for Fayston taxpayers

12/20/2007

By Bob Crean

I am writing in response to the editorial in the December 13, 2007, edition of The Valley Reporter, and the denial of my subdivision application by the Fayston Development Review Board.

The editorial states that my subdivision is "right in the midst of that (bear) habitat." This statement is entirely untrue. The Pioneer map made for Sugarbush's Act 250 permit process for the Slide Brook Express Chair shows the Slide Brook Basin Beech Stand. This detailed map clearly shows that none of it is on my property. The edge of the closest part of it is one-quarter mile away from the nearest building envelope on my revised plan submitted to the DRB. That map clearly shows the Slide Brook Basin Beech Stand located on more than half of the Spector subdivision which was approved by the Fayston Planning Commission. (They never requested that one-quarter-mile buffers be drawn on the applicant's plans as they did with me.)

The editorial also mentions the statutory use by right to clear land and build a single family home. It mentions a house where the clearing involved bear-scarred beech trees. Without restrictions, anyone can do this on their property.

On May 16, 2007, I signed a settlement agreement with the Fayston Select Board after nine hours of court ordered mediation. They agreed to this settlement because they realized it is better to put restrictions on my property and let me have four house lots. They looked at the big picture and considered the future, not just the present. I signed this agreement against the advice of my attorney who did not want me to have to submit this revised application to the DRB as the select board requested. I did so because the agreement stated that the select board would "work in good faith to explain the agreement and support its implementation in all public forums, including the Fayston Development Review Board."

If I had known that three of the five members of the DRB had been on the planning commission when my first application was denied (all three voted against it), I would have taken my attorney's advice. At least two of these members refused to look at my application as a new and revised application. They spent their entire time looking for reasons to deny it. As when they were on the planning commission, they only saw what agreed with their ultimate goal. Anything that did not go along with it, they would not believe.

By denying my application under the guise of protecting wildlife habitat, the DRB did just the opposite. I say this because the only restriction they imposed on my property was that only one house can be built. I can build barns, garages, sheds and other accessory structures anywhere on my property. I can have pools and ponds. I can cut 90 percent of my property for a pasture. There is also very little difference between plowing Slide Brook Road for one house or four.

My revised application includes:
1. The creation of an 8.3-acre conservation lot (slightly more than one-half of my property) permanently restricted from any development which is located between the beech stand and the closest building envelope. This would be an 8.3-acre buffer for all time.

2. Clearing shall be limited to a maximum of 100 feet around houses.

3. A pond may be added to the plan for fire protection purposes, but no other ponds or outdoor pools shall be allowed.

4. There shall be a buffer established on both sides of the unnamed brooks of 100 feet from each side (i.e., a total buffer of 200 feet from buffer edge to buffer edge for each brook).

5. There will be a permanent easement conveyed to the town for non-motorized recreational use of the "existing passable trail" depicted on the attached plan on the northwestern portion of the property (this is next to Lockwood Brook).

6. The property will be subject to further conditions; no garbage may be stored outside; no fire pits may be built; no barbeque equipment may be stored outside; no farm animals (with the exception of horses) are allowed; dogs must be on leashes at all times when outside; all lighting shall be downcast; non-native vegetation shall not be planted or maintained; no motorized recreational vehicles may be used on the property; construction of houses shall occur within the approved building envelopes; development of the property shall be restricted to single family homes, garages and horse barns; there shall be no further subdivision of the lots; there shall be no birdfeeders between April 1 and November 1.

I would like to point out that this subdivision is a financial benefit for the taxpayers of Fayston. Four homes will add to the tax base without increasing the highway department's expenses. I'm sure the members of the DRB have no problem playing their taxes, but I'm sure not all Fayston residents are this fortunate. Denying subdivisions has an effect on the supply and demand of building lots and, of course, the monetary value. Where have the young people gone?

Bob Crean lives in Edgartown, MA
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