SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD January 27, 2021
Members Present: Tim Maxham (Chair), Doug Patterson (Vice Chair), Jim Brightwell, Nate Hayward, Gareth Hunt, Liza Kilcoyne, William Rowe, Mike Welch (alternate)
Others Present: Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator)
Members Absent: None
Public Present Deb Sherman
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by T. Maxham at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was conducted by Zoom web meeting software.
Changes to Agenda: None.
Public Input: None.
Hearing: Richardson Site Plan revision to add an ADA ramp to a previously approved structure at 138 Ferry Rd – 21-40-FR138.
Notice & Oath
- Taylor-Varney read the hearing warning. T. Maxham administered the oath to the attending members of the public.
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
Mitchel Richardson, Keeler Bay Repair (applicant)
Paul Boisvert, Engineering Ventures
- Boisvert said that when they last appeared before the Board the applicant had added an ADA ramp to the front of the building. The application was denied by the Board because the structure was closer than the previously approved 121 feet to Rt 314. The applicant is back before the Board today presenting a revised site plan that places the south edge of the ramp to 121 feet from Rt 314. P. Boisvert said they had communicated with Regional Planning (Act 250) who indicated they would not object to this change. The plan is otherwise like the plan previously presented. Minor changes include a steeper grade on the driveway from Rt 314, changes to the size of the stormwater system (the applicant has just completed their State stormwater application), and preservation of a row of oak trees along 314. Parking is the same as presented previously.
- Maxham asked if the grade changed. P. Boivert said that since the building is pushed down the hill further back from the road, the average preconstruction grade is lower, which helps reduce the presence of the building when viewed from the road and reduces the dimensions of the berm on the west. P. Boivert said the floor elevation is down 4 feet from the last approved plan. T. Maxham asked if the applicant is now proposing 152 feet; P. Boivert said yes, for the lowest level. P. Boivert said that by moving the floor elevation down they can provide more floor height desired by the applicant but still maintain a building height of 35 feet.
- Maxham asked if the applicant needed to go lower than the excavation that has already been done. M. Richardson said they did not need to go lower and would be raising it. M. Taylor-Varney asked if the existing excavation would have to be changed. M. Richardson said that the only part of the excavation that needed to be changed is where the building is going to be. M. Taylor-Varney asked if they would have to fill; M. Richardson said yes, where the building is going to be. M. Richardson said they would have to excavate first, then fill, because they were now going to do a foundation. He said his previous plan was to do a slab on shale, but now that they had removed the shale, they would do a foundation.
- Hunt asked if the applicant had over-excavated. M. Richardson said they had excavated per the original plan, but now that the plan changed, he was sticking with the original excavation level for the foundation, which will be sitting on virgin material, and then building upwards from the foundation and backfilling around the foundation.
- Maxham asked if the existing ag driveway west of the main driveway would be retained and whether it would be used for the business. M. Richardson said that it would be kept, used during construction, and remain only for agricultural access to the west side of the property. He said it would not be used by the business. P. Boivert said that VTRANS allowed the access to remain as an agricultural access. D. Patterson asked how he would be getting from where the building is to the west side of the property, since the building and its lot are effectively an island. M. Richardson said they were not looking to access the west side of the property from the building area, but rather from the road up onto grass (before the building area) with farm equipment during haying season and to access cattle that would be grazing there. P. Boisvert said that the access on the east side of the building would be the primary farm access.
- Welch asked if there would be a gate on the farm access that would block off regular vehicular traffic. M. Richardson said that there would be a gate since there would be animals all around – the shop would be fenced but the animals would graze the perimeter.
- Maxham asked if there is a timeframe for construction. M. Richardson said that he wants to continue construction in April as soon as all permits are finalized. T. Maxham asked if construction will be continuous start to finish. M. Richardson said that he wanted to be done this year, in one construction season. M. Taylor-Varney said that the original permit from the Town did not include the professional space. M. Richardson said that he thought that his permit did include that space, and he and M. Taylor-Varney agreed to follow up outside of the meeting to clarify the scope of the permit.
- Richardson said that the only change that had been made since the last approval was the ADA access. M. Taylor-Varney said that he had added parking in front. M. Richardson said that the parking was part of the ADA addition required by the State. M. Taylor-Varney said the applicant had originally stated that there would be no parking in front of the building and that she wondered if alternatives for ADA access had been investigated. M. Richardson said that he had investigated an elevator but found that it was not cost-effective when considering both the initial cost and maintenance. M. Taylor-Varney asked if the ramp could have been located anywhere else on the building. P. Boisvert said that due to the slope of the property, a ramp located elsewhere would have to be extremely long. M. Richardson said they were taking advantage of the elevation at the front of the property to minimize the ramp. M. Richardson said that the parking in front of the building was for one handicap-accessible space plus 4 additional spaces as required by Town bylaws for the professional space. M. Richardson said that access to the professional space was completely independent of access for the repair business and so the parking for the professional space access was located next to its entrance at the front of the building. M. Taylor-Varney asked if there was a stairwell within the building. M. Richardson said no, not within the building.
- Patterson asked where the emergency exit was for the second floor. M. Richardson said there was an exterior stair tower at the rear of the building for fire emergency exit. M. Taylor-Varney asked if the emergency exit was required to be ADA compliant. M. Richardson said no. N. Hayward asked if the stair was within the structure. M. Richardson said it was within the structure but separated from the interior per fire code, and that the occupants of the second floor would have to go outside of the building to enter the lower level.
- Maxham asked for questions from the audience. D. Sherman asked if the ramp was considered part of the building. M. Taylor-Varney said that because it was attached, yes. D. Sherman asked if the ramp as part of the building and was thus covered by the setback. M. Taylor-Varney said yes. D. Sherman said that the original approval on September 12th states that the building shall be no closer than 160 feet from the edge of the road. M. Taylor-Varney said that distance was amended in the next hearing because Act 250 wanted the building to be 50 feet from the road and the Board compromised with Act 250 with a distance of 121 feet. D. Sherman asked if there was documentation from Act 250 on that requirement. M. Taylor-Varney said yes that Northwest Regional Planning, which was one of the parties that could comment to Act 250, requested that the project be 50-75 feet from the road. M. Taylor-Varney said that she negotiated 121 feet with NRPC, and both NRPC and Act 250 agreed to that distance.
- Sherman said on both the May original agreement and then again on September 12th it was stated that there would be no parking in front of the building, and now there was more parking plus a ramp in the front. D. Sherman said that the project had become quite expanded from the perspective of her property – that it was larger than her property. D. Sherman said that she wanted to reinstate her request for a privacy fence along her property line. P. Boisvert said the proposal had shown a privacy fence at one time but he had since become unclear whether D. Sherman wanted it. D. Sherman said that when the building was smaller, if the applicant agreed to the landscaping shown, that she would agree not to ask for the fence. Now that the building and area around it is bigger, the landscaping would not cover a second story and the ramp – that this is now a commercial building and not a farm building, so she was requesting a fence at least 6 feet high along the property line. M. Taylor-Varney asked if D. Sherman wanted the type of fence specified or whether she could work with the applicant. D. Sherman said that if possible, she wanted a vinyl fence because she did not want something that 5 years from now would be all torn apart. M. Richardson said that he had met previously with D. Sherman regarding the fence and that it was at her request that the fence was removed from the plan, that she said she did not want to look at a fence but would rather see the animals. D. Sherman said that at that time the building was 3000 square feet.
- Richardson said that he was amenable to a fence, but that he was looking for wood – that he did not think a vinyl fence would fit in with the area. D. Patterson said that he did not think the Board should be involved in specifying the type of fence, but rather if the Board specified a privacy fence, the type should be agreed upon between the landowners.
- Richardson said that he wanted to remind the Board that the building has been sunk down, so that less of the building and lot are visible.
- Hunt asked the applicant to explain how the project fit the general character of the neighborhood. T. Maxham said that the subject of the hearing was the site plan, that the conditional use had been previously granted. T. Maxham said that the site plan was previously rejected by the Board based on the distance from the road and the applicant has come back with the same building plan but with the project pushed backed from the road.
- Hunt said that he agreed, but that felt that the front side had a different feel than when it looked like a barn. D. Sherman asked if the earlier denial by the Board was due solely to the distance from the road and not because of the objections by herself and others to the overall design of the building. M. Richardson said that the design of the building had not changed, that the building had been rotated from the original design and the elevation lowered, so that the only features seen from the road would be the second floor access and the ramp. M. Taylor-Varney said that when the building was expanded from 3,000 to 7,800 square feet it was rotated 90 degrees.
- Sherman asked what the front of the building currently looked like. D. Patterson said that the upper parking area is roughly 162’-163’ in elevation and that the floor elevation is roughly 152’ so it is 10’ below what you see from the road. He said that from the road you would not see anything of the first floor, you would just see the ramp going up to the entrance on the second floor.
- Kilcoyne asked if the applicant would consider fewer parking places in front, keeping only the handicap space. M. Richardson said that the town code requires the 4 spaces and that the Access Board requires that the handicap parking and access be part of the normal flow of traffic.
- Maxham asked that the discussion keep to the site plan, and that the plan had been turned down previously due to the distance from the road and not its appearance, and the applicant has returned with revisions to meet that requirement.
There being no further discussion, L. Kilcoyne made a motion to accept the site plan as complete. M. Welch seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote.
- Maxham closed the hearing at 7:04 p.m.
Review of Minutes
- Patterson moved to accept the minutes of January 13th as amended. L. Kilcoyne seconded. The motion passed by acclamation.
February 10th. Final site plan hearing for Jim Bond for the Martin Road subdivision. There will also be a hearing for another applicant for a variance request related to the setback involving replacement of a non-conforming home.
Feb 24th. Hearing for a variance request on Railroad Street.
Motion to Adjourn
- Hayward moved to adjourn to deliberative session. The motion was seconded by D. Patterson and passed by acclamation. The meeting was adjourned at 7:12 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.