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Warren Town Plan revisions - Affordable housing land swap revisited

11/29/2007

By Kara Herlihy

The Warren Planning Commission (PC) had begun discussing possible revisions to the Town Plan and also relayed their excitement about the possible land exchange of the town land where the town garage sits and parcel of land with the potential for affordable housing.

There were several items on the November 26 agenda up for "general discussion" said Warren zoning administrator Miron Malboeuf. The items included a discussion of input from Mad River Valley Planning District director Linda Lloyd and consultant Jeff Schoelkopf regarding densities, district standards and Planned Residential Development options that 'foster affordable housing.'

Malboeuf said that the commission is "just looking for general ideas" for possible revisions and said that the Meadowland Overlay District "as it is presently laid out is not going to change."

"It's been in place for a number of years" and it won't change due to its "large and variable overlay."

The planning commission also enthusiastically reviewed the potential land swap discussed at the select board meeting two weeks earlier. The swap would allow the town of Warren to build a garage closer to the Sugarbush Access Road and, in turn, bring affordable housing to the village.

The planning commission first issued the town garage report May 8, and the select board revisited the topic on November 13.

"It would work out perfectly," said planning commission vice chair John Donaldson.

The proposal called for constructing a town garage on what is now a Summit Ventures-owned parcel adjacent to the town-owned Aldeborgh-Roe property. While the parcel has previously been considered for affordable housing, town officials suggested a swap -- which includes construction of the town garage on their property and affordable housing on the current town garage site.

"I like the idea of putting higher density housing on the garage site," said select board member Burt Bauchner at the November 13 meeting.

Re-creating each parcel's purpose would seem to allow the town to "use both properties to maximum advantage," said select board chair Mac Rood at that same meeting, noting that a study on the property off Route 100 deemed it a "marginal" location for affordable housing.

In addition to building affordable housing within walking distance of the elementary school and village center, the plan would put the road crew in closer proximity to the Sugarbush Access Road.

In their meeting June 12, the select board agreed to pursue three tasks in the short-term: Begin conversations with Sugarbush representative regarding a potential land swap; do more research into the feasibility of the Bobbin Mill site; and support any further brownfield assessment deemed necessary at the current garage site.

The decision-making process remains in its early stages, town officials have said. At the November 13 meeting, select board chair Mac Rood said he had spoken with Win Smith, president of Sugarbush, who was "receptive to the idea."

The select board also discussed delegating the project to the planning commission, and Conservation Commission to be brought back to the select board at a later date.

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