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By Lisa Loomis
Waitsfield is working its way through two appeals of recent decisions, one rendered this summer by planning commission and the other by the development review board.
Both appeals have been taken in Vermont Environmental Court.
The first, filed by Robin and Robert Foster, is an appeal of the town's denial of a four-lot subdivision proposed for land off Joslin Hill Road. The land is located in the agricultural/residential district and portions of it are currently in agricultural use. The Fosters wanted to create a 10.5-acre lot, a 4.9-acre lot , a 7.8-acre lot and a 5.2-acre lot.
The planning commission held the final public hearing on May 1 and closed the record before deliberating on the application. During deliberations, the planning commissioners expressed concern about how the proposal would result in fragmentation of active agricultural land and also noted that a portion of this land was subdivided previously. During the previous subdivision hearings, the Fosters represented to the planning commission that the land would not be further subdivided.
FRAGMENTATION OF FARM LAND
The commission put forth a motion to approve the subdivision and it received not a single affirmative vote. The written decision notes that the septic mounds on two of the lots are not suitable for future ag use, the building envelopes in the open meadow land preclude ag use, the lot lines could be fenced which would limit ag use and the large lot sizes will result in the fragmentation of farm land.
The town, through the select board, is assessing its course of action with this appeal.
The second appeal has been filed by the Central Vermont Community Land Trust, (CVCLT) which this summer received approval from the Development Review Board to build eight townhouses on land adjacent to Mad River Meadows.
MAD RIVER MEADOWS
Preston Jump, director of CVCLT, said that the appeal was filed primarily to keep open the option of asking the town to reconsider two conditions of the permit. He said CVCLT hopes to ask the development review board to reconsider those two conditions. Requesting that a hearing/decision be re-opened or reconsidered is possible under Vermont law when certain conditions are met.
Jump said that his organization wanted to amend a permit condition calling for the townhouses to have wood siding. Instead, CVCLT would like to use a 'wood-like' siding that is easier to care for.
"We've done that on other projects and it's worked out fine; it's easier to maintain. We think that's a very reasonable request and hope to get the town's agreement on that," he said.
Their second area of concern is a permit requirement having to do with solar panels. Jump said that while they plan to build using the panels, there is a permit condition which spells out a methodology of using the panels which may not work for their project.
"There was a requirement that if we didn't do something a certain way, we'd have to go back to the board for review. We felt that needed to be straightened out as well," he said.
"We look at both of these things as very minor, but if you don't raise your objection early, you lose your right to do so," he said.
The townhouses are slated to be affordable housing, with prices in the $170,000 range and some grants and subsidies available for down payments (for qualified borrowers) up to $30,000 to $40,000. There will be six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 1,100 to 1,200 square feet.