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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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New trail to run parallel to Old Center Fayston Road if subdivision is approved


By Erin Post

Confusion about the location of the town line between Fayston and Waitsfield turned into an opportunity to add an additional trail to the plan for a proposed subdivision.

Property owner Robin Morris, developer Gunner McCain and real estate broker Brian Shea appeared before the Fayston Select Board January 8 to clarify how much of the Class IV Old Center Fayston Road lies within Fayston.

Morris has a subdivision application pending for seven lots on a 130-acre property on Old Center Fayston Road, to be accessed via the Old County Road in Waitsfield. Developers are seeking to widen and improve the Class IV Old Center Fayston Road in Waitsfield as part of the project.

At first, it appeared as though about 2,000 feet of the road lay within Fayston, while Waitsfield had jurisdiction over the remaining 65 feet, requiring the select boards from both towns to sign off on road improvements.

However, McCain said January 8 that a survey map that he "didn't have before" showed the entirety of the Old Center Fayston Road to be within the town of Fayston. The map came to light during a recent meeting in Waitsfield regarding the proposed road improvements. (See related story about Waitsfield Select Board and this same development).

McCain said Waitsfield officials have signed off on the new location for the town line.

"Improvements would be entirely within the town of Fayston," McCain said, adding that he was seeking to amend the board's previous action to include the additional 65 feet of roadway. The board had approved the road upgrades about one year ago.

However, select board members, January 8, pushed the developer to construct a trail roughly parallel to the improved road. Plans call for the travel corridor to be widened to 16 feet with one-foot shoulders. Grading is also planned to reduce the road's slope to 15 percent or less.

Select board member Jared Cadwell said that many town residents use the unimproved road for walking and biking and to access a network of trails, all of which constitutes a valuable addition to the town.

"We are giving up to you the previously undeveloped but useable recreation trail," he said. "You need to work with us at minimal expense to you."

Select board member Ed Read also pushed for a trail to replace the upgraded road, citing the boom of subdivisions Fayston has experienced recently. He said the shrinking number of recreation trails that run unimpeded through Fayston and the wider Valley has officials thinking about how to replace what is being lost.

"We're kind of looking at it a little differently than we did a year ago," he said.

The select board also questioned whether a re-routed recreation trail on the Morris property should have additional protection. Morris said he planned for the trail to be open to the public unless the homeowners association for the proposed subdivision votes to close it.

Read suggested that the trail deserved permanent protection and that the possibility for closing off access does not serve the public.

"Having it completely out of our hands does not mean anything," he said.

But Morris countered that none of the trails connecting to the trail on his property are protected by an easement, making permanent protection for his trail pointless if access to the remaining trail network is closed off in the future.

The board's motion requires the developer to add to the plan for the proposed subdivision a trail that runs along the improved Old Center Fayston Road. The trail is intended to provide access to the re-routed trail on the Morris property. The width of the trail was not specified, to prevent the unnecessary cutting of trees. The trail may lie within the town's 50-foot right of way.

The Fayston Planning Commission has a second public hearing for the proposed subdivision scheduled for January 23.


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