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Widening Dowsville Road for development called "not neighborly"

03/13/2008

By Kara Herlihy

Widening Dowsville Road, a Class IV un-maintained town road in Duxbury, was proposed by consultant Gunner McCain as a way to make subdividing 2,085 acres more accessible.

McCain made that suggestion to the Duxbury Select Board and again to the Duxbury Development Review Board at a public hearing on March 11. The DRB meeting was a continuation of a February meeting where the proposal to create a five-lot subdivision covering 2,085 acres on Dowsville Road was first presented.

Applicant Forecastle Timber Company LLC was represented once again by consultant McCain who also appeared before the Duxbury Select Board the previous evening. McCain said he had addressed the select board regarding the possible widening of Dowsville Road, currently a Class IV road not maintained by the town.

CONCERNS OVER STEEPNESS

McCain said the widening of the road would alleviate any concerns over steepness that became a significant focus of the previous hearing.

If the road was widened, the landowners would be responsible for its maintenance, according to select board member Joann Berno.

The proposed subdivision would split the 2,085 acres into five residential lots, each measuring approximately 28 acres except for one large 2,200-acre tract said would most likely remain in forestry use.

CRITICAL WILDLIFE HABITAT

The proposed site for the subdivision is above 1,500 feet in elevation and, according to wildlife biologist John Buck, is host to critical wildlife habitat. Buck wrote a letter to the DRB stating that there was indeed critical wildlife habitat on the proposed site per the request of an abutting landowner.

Interested parties and abutting landowners once again questioned the proposed subdivision's compliance with the Duxbury Town Plan, which specifically mentions the Ward Hill parcel and the town's desire to discourage development on it.

The applicant was also represented by Attorney John Reilly, who said that "the Town Plan is not as black and white as the zoning regulations." At the previous hearing, McCain called the Town Plan "aspirational."

ADDED HOMES

DRB member Wayne Walker said, "I don't think it's a good idea to encourage development over 1,500 feet." Walker also voiced concerns over the ability of emergency vehicles to reach the added homes on Dowsville, should the subdivision be approved.

McCain said that the "most developable land in Duxbury is all above 1,500 feet."

At the previous hearing McCain said that his client had no interest in putting any of the land into the Vermont Land Trust. At the March 11 hearing, McCain said his client is "willing to work with the town and the neighbors" to reach an agreement.

DOESN'T FEEL NEIGHBORLY

One concerned party said, "It just doesn't feel neighborly."

An abutting landowner said, "It feels like you've already made up your minds and are trying to talk us into it." Members of the DRB assured that they would take the time to "examine all sides of the issue" and would not reach a decision that evening.

Because the proposed subdivision is the maximum five lots, an Act 250 permit is not required, and the applicant can return in five years to propose another number of lots. If approved, the project will still require a number of state permits including storm water management and water sewer.

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