SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD August 26, 2020
Members Present: Tim Maxham (Chair), Doug Patterson (Vice Chair), Jim Brightwell, Nate Hayward, Gareth Hunt, Liza Kilcoyne, William Rowe, Sue Arguin (alternate), Mike Welch (alternate)
Others Present: Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator)
Members Absent: None
Public Present: Brigitte Barrette, Sharon Chadwick, Jim/Irene Falby, Bob Fireovid, Sandy Gregg, George Harwood, Todd Kelley, Bridget Kerr, Heather Kraemer, Lucy Lane, Sharyn V. Layfield, Guy Maguire, Wm Sobering, Cindy Spence, Anne Quinn
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by T. Maxham at 7:00 p.m. The meeting was conducted by Zoom web meeting software.
Changes to Agenda: None.
Public Input: None.
Hearing: Conditional Use and Preliminary Site Plan Review for a Woodshop with Retail Gallery, and a single-family home on Lot #4 Lavin Lane (275 RT 2) – Douglas Walker/Walker Office Works. Application # 21-02-LN#4).
T. Maxham opened the hearing at 7:00 p.m.
Notice & Oath
G. Hunt read the hearing warning. T. Maxham administered the oath to the attending members of the public.
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
Doug & Terra Walker
Doug Walker said that he was proposing to construct a building on the Lavin subdivision Lot #4 at 275 U.S. Route 2 to house the workshop for his company, Walker Office Works, and a separate residence. D. Patterson explained that because the application was in the Village District, two principal uses (residence and commercial workshop) are allowed and the application would not need to be considered under the rules of a Planned Unit Development.
D. Walker said the workshop building would be built to look like a barn, and that it would likely be built in phases. The overall size of the completed building is 16,000 square feet. There would be 3 employees (he has had three employees since 2011). His business is very high-end woodworking, with three to four customers per year. He works on either high-end homes or commercial interiors. Traffic to the facility would be mostly Federal Express and UPS deliveries, with an occasional box truck or tractor-trailer delivery when he orders materials. Hours would be 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and includes Saturdays.
W. Rowe asked what kind of equipment would be in the shop and what kind of noise would emanate from the shop. D. Walker said that he expected very little if any noise would be heard on the exterior of the building. The building he is in now is a steel building and no noise is detectable on the outside of the building. Equipment in the building would include planers, joiners, shapers, and traditional woodworking tools, plus some CNC equipment. He is in 10,000 square feet at the moment.
G. Hunt asked what the height of the proposed building would be. D. Walker said that the building would be close to the 40’ limit specified in regulations in order to get the roof pitch that looks like a barn.
D. Patterson asked for a breakdown of the areas within the building by function. D. Walker said Phase 1 is the main workshop; later phases would be built as shed additions to look like milking parlors. Phase 3 would contain the office and showroom; half of Phase 3 might be built with Phase 1 and would contain 1000 square feet of office and showroom, which when fully built would be 2000 square feet.
D. Patterson asked how much of the building would be warehousing and how much manufacturing. D. Walker said that warehousing and manufacturing would be all in one room, its all one big open workshop. D. Walker said that if you go to his Instagram feed you can see videos of the inside of his current workshop and see the types of projects he works on.
M. Welch asked if the building was climate controlled and if windows and doors were open during the summer. D. Walker said that the building was maintained at 60-70 degrees at all times. He said that he does not keep windows and doors open to minimize dust from the exterior from settling on his product. M. Welch asked if there was a room set aside for applying finishes. D. Walker said yes, it’s an area, not a room, set aside for applying finishes. He said that they only apply Green Guard VOC-compliant finishes.
G. Hunt asked if there was a vent to the outside. D. Walker said yes, and it’s filtered. G. Hunt asked what type of insulation would be used in the building. D. Walker said there would be rigid insulation on the exterior walls and roof, and that consequently from the outside you would have a hard time hearing anything going on within the building.
In response to a question about his company, D. Walker said that his website was somewhat old and more current information was available on Instagram.
W. Rowe questioned the completeness of the site plan. T. Maxham clarified that this was a preliminary site plan, that what was presented seems to comply with Table 3.1 (requirements for preliminary site plan), and that a complete site plan would be required for the final site plan review. D. Walker said that he was appearing before the Board to obtain preliminary feedback before investing in engineering resources for a more complete site plan. D. Walker said that the site plan reflected more parking than he would probably need, noting that he had only three employees. He said that he is a very low impact business and doesn’t have a lot of activity, and that he has only three to four customers per year. He said he plans to maintain his business at the current level, and eventually retire there.
W. Rowe asked if the applicant planned to occupy the residence himself. D. Walker said yes. W. Rowe asked if the lot could be subdivided. D. Walker said that right now he was looking to get a house and a barn built – he was not looking to subdivide, but he was looking for a place where he could retire with his business. He pointed out that to subdivide, he would have to appear before the Board to apply for a subdivision.
D. Patterson asked for a timeline for construction. D. Walker said that after approval for Phase 1 of the barn he could probably turn it around in about six months. The house would be built after Phase 1. D. Patterson said so we’re looking at about 18 months? D. Walker said yes, but he might not build Phase 2 for two years, or maybe ever. He said he wanted to know that he had permission to build the entire project before going forward. He said what he has proposed is his dream shop, he doesn’t need to have his dream shop today, but he wants to know he can build his dream shop.
G. Hunt asked what the distance was from the built-out workshop to the property line. D. Walker estimated 300’.
A letter from Bridget & Doug Kerr was read into the record. G. Hunt made a motion to accept the letter into the record; W. Rowe seconded the motion. The motion was carried by acclamation.
T. Maxham opened the hearing to questions from the audience.
Sharon Chadwick said that on the issue of trucks at the location, she did not see a big difference between the proposed facility and the 50-seat restaurant that was slated to go in across the road.
Sandy Gregg said that she thought that the barn would look very good with a cupola and encouraged the applicant to consider it. D. Walker said that he did not want to go over the height limit. S. Gregg said that she did not think that features like the cupola were subject to the height limitation. D. Walker said that he had built a few cupolas in the Vermont area that were outstanding and he would be happy to put a cupola on the building.
S. Gregg asked if the applicant would ever consider renting the building. D. Walker said that he could not foresee the future, but he looked to grow old there. He said that he has been doing woodwork in Vermont since he was 20, and was now almost 62, and he aspired to emulate the artist and woodworker Wendell Castle, who passed away last year (Clerk’s note: see www.wendellcastle.com).
D. Walker said that he is not a factory, he is an artist who builds beautiful, gigantic tables, and needs a lot of space for his work. He said that he built a table for the company Dealer.com that took him a half-year to build and cost approximately $200,000. D. Walker encouraged the audience to look at his portfolio, which he characterized as super high-end work. He said another client was building a $15M house on the lake in Burlington, he was supplying the woodworking for that, and that job for one customer has been going on for a year and a half.
Sharyn Layfield said that she wanted to support what Doug and Bridget Kerr said, that South Hero was a special place and she felt that although the workshop sounded like a lovely place, it was not right for that area, and she would like to see some of the land protected as habitat.
L. Kilcoyne asked what the construction of the building would be. D. Walker said that the most cost-effective construction would be a pre-manufactured metal building, clear-span on the main part of the building. L. Kilcoyne asked if it would look like a barn. D. Walker said the construction would be a foam-core panel with metal on the inside and outside, and he would pick a color like red with white trim and make it look as much like a barn as possible. It would have proportionately big windows and he felt that it would have to look like a barn. He said that he wanted the adjacent house to be of such quality that it would raise nearby property values. D. Walker said you can look at my work – I built Waterworks restaurant inside – my work is all over the place.
L. Kilcoyne said is it is sometimes hard to make a metal building look like a barn. D. Walker said if you look at the picture I submitted, it is of a building on Route 100 in Waterbury. It struck me that the owner of this building spent a lot of time making sure it looked like a barn. It’s a new barn, I’m not going to build one that looks like it’s falling down. We built a studio for Trey Anastasio (Clerk’s note: lead vocalist of the rock band Phish) and Trey made sure that the inside of the building looked like a torn-down barn, but it has to be a practical building that lasts for a long time. A wooden building doesn’t seem to be the thing to do.
L. Kilcoyne said you understand my point that people sometimes start to make something that looks like a barn but it winds up looking like a metal building. D. Walker said yes, absolutely, that’s why if we can start with a good roof pitch that isn’t a flat roof – a 6 or 8 pitch roof with a couple of sheds – that we can make something that looks like a big old milking parlor. L. Kilcoyne said for the next round of review we’d like to see something drawn to scale.
S. Gregg asked how much water was used in the workshop’s current location. D. Walker said no water was used in any process of any kind. The only water used was for the toilet and washroom.
S. Gregg asked how residue from the finishes was collected. D. Walker said that a filter apparatus traps aerosols, which are disposed of in the landfill. Once a year the floor in the finish area is replaced. Any waste goes to the solid waste district. D. Walker said he generates little waste, and estimated that since 2011 he has disposed of one barrel of solid waste.
S. Arguin asked if there was any hazardous material on the property. D. Walker said none, other than waste such as paint thinner from the finish area is put into a barrel, which is sealed and brought to the solid waste district.
Bridget Kerr asked if the applicant planned to grow his business, noting that his website said he planned to grow his business. D. Walker said his website was built in 2012 when he moved into his current building, and has not been recently updated. He said that most of his work was by referral. He said that at the time the website was created he had no employees; now he has three that have been with him for a couple of years. He noted that it’s hard to manage three employees as it is, since they are all a bunch of artists, and managing more people was not the kind of business that he wanted. He said he is the principal craftsperson – he does all of the spraying, all of the computer work, all of the machine setup.
Hearing no further questions from the Board or audience T. Maxham concluded the hearing at 8:03 p.m.
Hearing: Conditional Use and Site Plan Review for a Nano-Brewery at 1 Ferry Rd. –Matthew Bartle/South Hero Fermentation. Application #21-05-FR001).
T. Maxham opened the hearing at 8:12 p.m.
Notice & Oath
G. Hunt read the hearing warning. T. Maxham swore in the applicant.
Public Present: Ryan Johnston (abutter)
Appearing on behalf of the applicant
M. Bartle said that he wants to build a nano-brewery in the former bagel shop at 1 Ferry Road to incubate the brewery for the brew pub that he is planning to build in South Hero Village. He is proposing no changes to the structure other than re-installing a garage door in the building. He is proposing a tasting room inside with additional outdoor seating, depending on what the Department of Liquor Control permits. Proposed hours are Tuesday-Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. There are two curb-cut accesses, one on Route 314 and one on Route 2.
T. Maxham asked if hours of operation were for production or the tasting room or both. M. Bartle said that was for the tasting room and production would occur outside of those hours.
G. Hunt asked how many seats there would be in the tasting room. M. Bartle said it’s not done by seats. The water supply does not allow for a public restroom so there are not a defined number of seats as in a restaurant. The regulations for a tasting room specify only how many employees you can have, not the number of patron seats. There would be about 10 stools in the customer area. There is a Port-O-Let outside that is provided by the landlord.
D. Patterson asked if the three employees would be there all at one time. M. Bartle said likely two would be working at one time.
J. Brightwell asked what happens to the brewery waste and if there is any outside storage for brewery waste or trash. M. Bartle said that the brewery waste will be removed to a local farm and not stored outside and will not be put into the septic system.
Ryan Johnston (abutter) said he had concerns regarding the wastewater and septic and the plan to use a Port-O-Let. He said his restaurant (McKee’s Island Pub & Pizza & LGM Holdings) currently had problems with customers of the adjacent Simon’s coming to McKee’s to use the restroom since there was no facility there. R. Johnston said that his property had a septic system rebuild approved and was awaiting construction. His concern was that based on his research, there would be a considerable amount of liquid and solid waste from the brewery that would need to be disposed of. He was concerned that yeast waste stored in dumpsters would create an odor. He was also concerned that the brewery would generate additional traffic, which was a concern expressed by the community for previous proposals for development on that corner. He also expressed concern that his water line had previously been tapped into by the neighboring property. Ryan said his property was serviced by a well that was up on Maple Ridge Lane, accessed by a right-of-way.
W. Rowe asked where the upgraded septic was. R. Johnson said that it was going into the lot behind McKee’s and that it was permitted. W. Rowe asked if it would service any property other than McKee’s. R. Johnston said it would only serve McKee’s.
T. Maxham asked if the well referenced was supposed to service the store next door. R. Johnston said no, that the state had notified the adjoining property that they had to be disconnected from that water line, but he had not received any notice that this work had been completed.
T. Maxham asked to confirm the earlier discussion that all brewery waste was going to be held in a tank and asked if the solid matter brewery waste going to be held outside in a dumpster. M. Bartle said no, there will not be any storage externally of any brewery waste products solid or liquid.
Hearing no further questions from the Board or the public, T. Maxham closed the hearing at 8:26 p.m.
Review of Minutes
D. Patterson moved to accept the minutes of Aug 12, 2020 as corrected. G. Hunt seconded the motion. The motion passed by acclamation.
The Administrator’s Report was delivered by Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator).
• Sept 9th no hearings; business meeting & deliberative only.
• 23rd Sept one hearing for Conditional Use & Site Plan Review
Motion to Adjourn
G. Hunt moved to adjourn to deliberative session. The motion was seconded by L. Kilcoyne and carried by acclamation. The meeting was adjourned to deliberative session at 8:33 p.m.
James G. Brightwell
Clerk for S. Hero Development Review Board
Signed: ____________________________________________ Date: __________________
For the Development Review Board
These minutes are unofficial until approved at the next regularly-scheduled meeting. All motions were unanimous unless otherwise indicated.