SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD MINUTES March 8, 2023
Members Present: Tim Maxham (Chair); Doug Patterson (Vice-Chair); Jim Brightwell; Nate Hayward; Mike Welch; Ellie Reid (via Zoom)
Others Present: Angelina Menard; Sandy Gregg; Nancy Tracy; Jan Doerler; “iPad Rich”, Cindy Spence; Cynthia and Todd Kelley; Devin Hacket; Don Bedard: Bridget Kerr; Joan Falcao; Peg Kirk; Rick Monterosso; Amie Saunders; Sharon Chadwick; Janine Bellinghiri; Jeff Sikora; Heidi Tappan; Anne Quinn; Dave Marshall (Civil Engineering Associates); Meghan Kohlmeyer (Applicant); Kevin Kohlmeyer; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA).
7:02PM – T. Maxham opened the meeting and introduced the Board members.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
Joan Falcao told the Board that the agenda had not been posted on the website. M. Taylor-Varney responded that she had been notified by Janine Bellinghiri earlier that afternoon that is wasn’t there and she posted it. However, the meeting had been warned correctly, meeting the requirements of the Development Regulations.
Final Site Plan Review for an 18-Hole Miniature Golf Course on Lot #2, 275 US RT 2 – Island Time/Meghan Kohlmeyer
The warning was read. T. Maxham administered the oath to those wishing to testify and instructed the public on the hearing process.
Applicant Meghan Kohlmeyer herself, her husband, Kevin, and their engineer, Dave Marshall of Civil Engineering Associates). She explained that her vision for the golf course is to maintain the natural landscape (the trees and the stream). The theme will include local lore and history of this part of Lake Champlain, with features including ‘Champ’, a lighthouse, and railroad. Engineer David Marshall told the Board that the plan works around the existing trees on the lot and that they plan to keep the drainage swale. An interceptor swale on the south boundary of the lot will divert water to the drainage ditch. A stormwater run-off plan includes a “gravel wetland” to filter the flow of water before it is collected and discharged to the existing ditch. The 29-car gravel parking lot has been moved to along the south boundary, leaving a green space between the parking area and the course. The lot had been adjacent to the course on the preliminary site plan, leaving the open area along the south boundary for future additional parking, if needed. The new open space location is also designated for possible future parking. The lot includes 2 HC spaces. Although the lot is gravel, the HC spaces will be marked in blue paint. As there will be no need for wintertime plowing, the painted gravel will last longer. Also differing from the preliminary site plan, lighting bollards are proposed to be replaced by 4 tree-mounted motion sensor lights. Since operating hours will only be limited to daylight, there are no proposed lights for the course. Two lights will be included under the canopy of the clubhouse.
The Applicants explained that the “Champ” feature replace a free-standing sign along RT 2. They are asking the Board for permission to keep the sign lit each night until 9PM. There was discussion about the size of the proposed feature and whether its size would be considered under the Town’s sign ordinance. The proposed height and dimensions (24’x16’x8’) exceed the limits of the sign ordinance. The trees will create a canopy to reduce uplighting and spread to the road and abutting properties.
The application meets the requirements for water and septic. The use of porta-johns is proposed, located at the entrance to the course from the parking area. These will be screened. Water from fire district #4 is shown on the site plan to extend from an existing water valve along RT 2, to be connected to hoses for washing down the course area only.
- Is the culvert under RT 2, 24” as shown on the plan, or 42” as included in the Applicant’s narrative? Dave Marshall confirmed that it is 24”.
- The constructed curb cut shown on Sheet C1.0 does not line up with the right-of-way. It appears to be about 15 feet east of the ROW. D. Marshall confirmed that the right-of-way placement on the plan is correct, and the constructed curb cut is incorrect. There is no culvert yet under the curb cut.
- The most recent subdivision approval of the Lavin parcel required that utilities be within the ROW. This site plan shows a water line bisecting the lot from the service connect on RT 2 to the clubhouse. Jeff Sikora said that both water line and power will run up the east side of the right-of-way. Conditions for this application will include water and power locations will meet those shown on the subdivision plat.
- Will there be a well drilled? None plan, at this time. The Board will require a letter from Fire District #4 confirming enough capacity for the proposed use.
- Are there any ash trees on the site? Meghan stated that they need to assess this more once the trees leaf out in the spring.
- Tim asked for elevations and a floor plan of the clubhouse.
- Does the Applicant propose to open this year? No, aiming for 2024.
- Have you considered other materials for the fence besides chain link, to blend in with the property? Meghan explained that they want the fence along the road to be transparent. She proposed additional landscaping to screen the fence, if required. She is open to other materials, but it needs to be see-through. Would she consider split rail? The fence on the west side will have additional natural screening.
- Are there details available for the proposed features on the course – artistic drawings, perspectives? Kevin Kohlmeyer explained that these were one-of-a-kind designs and that they may be able to get better renderings. The largest features are Champ and the lighthouse. Jim asked for details including the number of features, their size and dimensions, plus what is going where? Would it be possible to move Champ further away from the road?
- What is the proposed schedule? Meghan said they hope to start in late summer or fall and complete in early spring 2024. The right-of-way and utilities need to go in first. Jeff Sikora said the plan is to start the road in July (this summer). Landowner Martin Lavin will build the road and install water lines and a transformer once the first lot is sold.
- Is there a commitment from Fire District #4 that there is enough capacity? Jeff said they are in the process of confirming that. Doug – How can the DRB approve a project without knowing this? Jeff is working with Jay Buermann and believes there will be enough capacity. The fire district will not consider it unless there’s a real project proposed.
- Is the stormwater plan compliant with the Town’s regulations? Dave Marshal said it is.
- Will there be any changes to elevations created on the parcel? Dave Marshall said that a berm will be built along the south boundary of the lot to direct water to the existing ditch.
- What materials will be used on the course? The walkways will be gravel and the course itself will be concrete.
- Condition #5 of the conditional use and preliminary site plan decision [application #23-28-RT275, date December 14, 2022] stated that, at final site plan review, the Applicant should be prepared to discuss providing sufficient guarantees to the Town for demolition and site reclamation of the course and amenities should the business close permanently. Meghan said that they would intend to reclaim the property and are limiting the amount of concrete areas. She asked the Board how to satisfy them. Do you need a plan or some sort of bond?
- Tim said he was not comfortable wit the plan to mount lights on the trees. He prefers poles.
Mike Welch asked if the business failed, would the improvements for stormwater benefit a future property owner? Dave Marshall said yes. He will draw up a reclamation plan.
Questions from the Public:
Janine Bellinghiri stated that she agreed with Jim Brightwell. She felt the project, as proposed, did not fit in with the rural nature of the area.
Bridget Kerr asked about security lighting – how many? Meghan stated there would be 5 to 6 motion activated lights that would be for after business hours. What is a “gravel wetland”? Dave Marshall explained that it has a vegetative surface and that there may be temporary ponding after heavy rain but will filter the stormwater as they drain. They are different from stormwater ponds and more efficient. They are now the most used stormwater mitigation in Vermont. What is the percentage of impervious surface? Dave Marshall responded that there is a little over ½ acre of impervious surface (road/parking/walkways/course) resulting in 25% of the 2.44-acre lot. How many trees will be removed? Perhaps one dozen small trees, beneath the canopy of the large trees.
Sandy Gregg asked if there was a sidewalk plan along RT 2 included in the proposal. Meghan said that at this time it was cost prohibitive but they would consider helping to maintain a path along the road. Will the power be underground? Yes, it will be underground from a pole on RT 2 to the utility right-of-way, and then to the course.
Jan Doerler asked how the proposal would benefit the residents of South Hero. Meghan responded that it would bring additional business and visitors to South Hero, as already come to Seb’s and other existing businesses in town. When will it be operating? May to October. Jan wants this to be conditioned heavily, and to include landscaping to avoid a “Coney Island” appearance, and that she was also concerned about how it might impact property values. Meghan stated that it was not their vision for the business to be an eyesore. She was happy to consider additional aspects to improve the street view.
Doug Patterson read to the meeting attendees an email sent to the Zoning Administrator from Nancy Vanacek (315 West Shore Rd.) in response to the application. He stated the letter was defamatory and did not add to the discussion. D. Patterson moved to enter the letter as an exhibit; there was no second. No action taken. Tim Maxham stated that the letter was not from an interested person to the application. He said the DRB treats applicants with respect and complies with the Regulations, including listening to adjacent property owners. The email was an inflammatory statement about a political process and an issue that has divided the community. He apologized to the Applicants. The letter will not be considered when this application is deliberated.
Tim Maxham stated that there are still some things that the Board needs from the Applicants before the hearing is closed. ZA Martha Taylor-Varney will meet with them to compile that list. Mike Welch moved to recess the hearing to April 26, 2023 at 7PM; Nate Hayward second. All in favor.
There was none.
Review of Minutes
Doug Patterson moved to approve the minutes of February 8, 2023; Mike Welch second. All in favor.
- Grand Isle County has a new Wetlands Ecologist. Krystal Sewell has replaced longtime G.I. wetlands ecologist Brock Freyer.
- Martha told the Board that surveyor Warren Robenstein died on February 26. Warren was 87 years old.
- The upcoming schedule includes 2 subdivision applications for the March 22 meeting, and the continuation of the Island Time final site plan review on April 22nd. The April 12 meeting will be a short business meeting followed by a deliberation, unless the ZA receives a complete application for a hearing by March 16.
- Martha told the Board that she will be proposing a series of Zoning ‘classes’ to be held on a monthly basis for anyone interested in understanding the zoning process in South Hero. Each presentation will be of just one subject, eventually covering all of the Development Regulations. Meetings will be in-person, with a Zoom option and possibly filmed. No specific day/date has been determined yet to start. The idea has already been presented to the Planning Commission, with positive feedback.
9:08PM – Nate Hayward moved to adjourn; Mike Welch second. All in favor.
Martha Taylor-Varney, ZA
Signed: _________________________________________ Date: ______________________
For the DRB
These minutes are unofficial until the next regularly scheduled meeting. All motions were unanimous unless otherwise indicated.