SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD March 10, 2021
Members Present: Tim Maxham (Chair), Doug Patterson (Vice Chair), Jim Brightwell, Nate Hayward, Gareth Hunt, Liza Kilcoyne, William Rowe, Mike Welch (alternate, sitting for the hearing as full member in place of T. Maxham)
Others Present: Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator)
Members Absent: None
Public Present Anchorage Hearing
Charles & Claire Rousseau
Gail & Timothy Kelly
Herb Kaufman & Laurie Palmer
Mary Kim, Charles, and Avery Lavery
Mick & Marilyn McConnell
Kara von Behren
Jim Bond and Beth Curtis
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: Continuation of 3-Lot Subdivision Final Plan Review – Bond (21-39-MR007)
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
Jim Bond and Beth Curtis
Chair T. Maxham recused himself. D. Patterson assumed the chair and opened the hearing. Administration of the oath was omitted as the participants were sworn in previously.
Regarding changes to the site plan since the last meeting, J. Bond said that he had moved the septic system far enough east so that the isolation zone for the mound is now entirely on his property. He said that he had spoken to Randy DeLong yesterday, had provided him with the drawing, and Mr. DeLong was content with the situation. J. Bond said that he had also moved the isolation zone for the well near Bill Bannis’ property so that the zone extended only into the 25-foot setback on Mr. Bannis’ property, and Mr. Bannis was also satisfied. J. Bond said that he had put in a 12-foot easement around the shared mound system so that both property owners have access to the system. J. Bond said that the hammerhead is now 20’ wide and 45’ long and is located where the driveway goes into lot #5 and lot #6.
- Hunt made a motion to accept the applicant’s request to reduce the width of the right-of-way at the point where the driveway enters Lot #6 from 50’ to 30’. L. Kilcoyne seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation.
- Patterson said that Town ordinances require an easement around the hammerhead, as well as continuing to Lot #5. M. Welch clarified that Lot #5 would need an easement to back into the driveway on Lot #6 to turn around. J. Bond said that he would have the engineer add the easement around the hammerhead.
Hearing no further discussion, D. Patterson closed the hearing at 6:15 p.m.
Hearing: Conditional Use/Site Plan Review for an Added Use – Morrissette (21-54-FL117)
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
David & Melissa Morrissette
- Maxham resumed the chair. M. Taylor-Varney read the hearing warning.
- Maxham said that the Board would first hear about the conditional use and then proceed to review the site plan.
- Maxham administered the oath to the applicant and audience.
Applicant D. Morrissette said that The Anchorage had been around since the late 1950’s and was started by the Steadman family. He purchased the property in 2017. D. Morrissette said that he had been doing remodeling and building the business back up, some of which was by hosting fishing tournaments and family reunions. He said that in the first year he had been able to get the National Semifinals through the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) and has been able to host this for the past couple of years. He said that he was not aware that he needed a Conditional Use permit in addition to the 50-person license he has for lodging and dining. D. Morrissette said that once he found out that he needed a conditional use permit he made the application. He also mentioned that he hosted a wedding in 2019 and was unaware that he needed a permit. He said he is interested in hosting other weddings in the future and is looking to have four events throughout the season with up to double his regular capacity (100 people) except for a one-time event up to 125 people to accommodate a prospective wedding client.
- Maxham asked for the hours of operation and the number of vehicles expected. D. Morrissette asked if the question was for special events or regular operation. M. Taylor-Varney said the application is for special events. M. Morrissette said that they have 14 cabins on-site, 12 of which are up and running. She said they have parking for all cabins and for special use events would be looking at approximately 25 extra cars. D. Morrissette said that fishing events are a 2–3-hour event usually on a Friday night where all contestants show up for their briefing meeting and registration and are usually served a meal. D. Morrissette said that they normally host (sleep) 30-35 at the lodge and the rest of the tournament participants come from other establishments in the area. They usually arrive between 4:00-5:00 p.m.
- Patterson asked if he is correct in understanding that tournaments have been held at the Anchorage “forever.” D. Morrissette said that he is not sure whether the previous owner had tournaments, like hosting a dinner, but there have been people coming and going for at least the past 60 years. He said he had stayed there since the late ‘90’s before he bought the place, had family that had stayed there in the ‘80’s, and he had a group that has been coming for over 50 years that takes the whole place. D. Patterson asked if the fishing tournament is new. D. Morrissette said the hosting of the fishing tournament is new, where people would come for their one-time briefing meeting and dinner, and where he is able to make extra revenue. He said that last year, with COVID, they did not host a dinner.
- Rowe asked if the wedding event proposed for this summer is the first wedding event. D. Morrissette said that it would be the second, that he hosted a wedding event in 2019 for 110 people in late September. The wedding booked right now is for July 10th. He said he requires a wedding party to book the entire property for several days.
- Kilcoyne said when there is a wedding for 125 people, allowing for couples, you would need parking for 75 people or so. D. Morrissette drew the Board’s attention to the site plan and reviewed the areas indicated for parking. L. Kilcoyne asked how many total parking spaces were available. D. Morrissette said that there were a little over 100, not counting the spaces for the cabins. L. Kilcoyne asked how many people could be hosted in the cabins. D. Morrissette said 50. L. Kilcoyne said that if there was a wedding for a whole weekend, people could be coming in and out. D. Morrissette said that the wedding would be on Saturday, which is when the 75 additional people would be there.
- Maxham said that opens things up to the site plan review and asked for a review of the details of the site plan. T. Maxham said that he understood that the applicant was asking for a waiver for showing contours. M. Taylor-Varney said that she had the most recent boundary plat and there were contours on that. D. Morrissette then reviewed the features on the site plan, highlighting the parking areas.
- Brightwell asked where the sanitary facilities were and whether the applicant would bring in Port-O-Lets. D. Morrissette said they would bring in Port-O-Lets for the overflow. He said that each cabin has its own bathroom, and there is an extra bathroom in the main lodge, but he would bring in whatever was recommended for that day. J. Brightwell asked how trash would be handled, and whether the site had its own kitchen or whether the event would be catered. D. Morrissette said that the proposed wedding event would be catered, and that they had a big dumpster for trash that is picked up weekly. M. Morrissette said that they have a kitchen in the main lodge that the caterer would have access to. D. Morrissette said that the dining room in the main lodge seated 50, but the wedding would be outside. D. Morrissette said that although the dumpster is by the main lodge, they also have a half-dozen large trash receptacles that they can use throughout the grounds for the day.
- Brightwell asked if for the angler event everyone arrived by car and not by boat. D. Morrissette said by car. D. Morrissette said that for the angler event, anglers need to be off the water by 3:00 p.m. on the last day, and the anglers that stay at the lodge come in and park the (cars and) boats in the area where they would park for weddings as well as around the cabins. The anglers staying elsewhere would usually carpool in and arrive without their boats.
- Rowe asked if the Anchorage provided any meals other than the banquet. D. Morrissette said they provide breakfast every day for their guests and would do so for the people staying there for the wedding but would not provide meals for other wedding attendees.
- Hayward asked if the parking areas shown on the plan were existing. D. Morrissette said that the parking areas were all grass. N. Hayward asked what is done to delineate the parking areas. D. Morrissette said they have someone direct parking but there is no marking. N. Hayward asked how the capacity of the parking areas was calculated. D. Morrissette said that they used the parking space dimensions provided by M. Taylor-Varney, which were 9’x20’.
- Maxham said that before the Board proceeded, he wanted a motion regarding the waiver to provide contours on the site plan, as requested by the applicant. G. Hunt made a motion to waive the requirement for contours; no second was made and no further action was taken on the motion.
- Kilcoyne asked how hilly the site is. D. Morrissette described the general topography of the site, involving a crest of a hill along the axis between the lodge and Mary Steadman’s house, descending to the road on one side and to the lake on the other side.
- Brightwell asked how large the property is. D. Morrissette said just over 6 acres. J. Brightwell asked what the distances are to the nearest residences and where they are. D. Morrissette said that Mary Steadman’s residence is the closest, about 30’ to the south off the back of the property (shown on the site plan). D. Morrissette said that the Kaufman’s were across the street, about 100’ off the road, and the McConnell property has about 4 homes on their property towards the lake side, the closest of which was about 200’. The Carters and other residences are beyond.
- Brightwell asked if the applicant is proposing outdoor music. D. Morrissette said that for the wedding they are proposing a DJ outdoors at the tent site, facing towards the lake.
- Maxham said that the Board still needed to address the requested waiver for contours. N. Hayward said that the site has some topography, and the Board has granted waivers in the past, but he thought that this site is like the Keeler Bay Campground for which a site visit by the Board had been valuable. N. Hayward said that if the Board is contemplating a waiver for contours a site visit might be a good idea. J. Brightwell said that he would support that idea. L. Kilcoyne said that she agreed and that she felt that the Board needed more information than what is provided on the site diagram. She pointed out that in addition to having variable topography, the site is wooded. J. Brightwell said that the concerns of noise, traffic volume, and impact on the neighbors could be affected by topography, by vegetation, by distance, and by how sound carries on the lakeshore. He said that one of the neighbors impacted could be across the inlet. D. Morrissette said that he is proposing that the music be finished by 10:00 p.m.
- Maxham said that several members of the Board had suggested a site visit, which would mean the hearing would have to be continued. He said that he wanted to be sure that the Board had first provided input regarding what they want to see on the site plan. J. Brightwell said that trash and port-o-let facilities should be shown. N. Hayward said that the Board would want to see setbacks on the site plan. D. Patterson said that he wanted to see existing structures and access points on adjacent properties, including those residences directly across on public streets, to give an idea of where the neighbors are. J. Brightwell said approximate distances to the neighbors would be helpful. T. Maxham said that the survey showed the Steadman and Sikora residences on the west side of Featherbed Lane but no driveways or buildings on the east side. W. Rowe said it would be good to see the dwellings. J. Brightwell said it would also be good to see vegetation, whether adjacent residences were facing and whether the contour of the land would direct the noise, so a site visit would clarify the impact of the proposed activities on the neighborhood.
- Maxham said that the Board would determine the date of a site visit before recessing the hearing.
- Brightwell said that if the Board is going to take additional time with this application, he would like to have an estimate of traffic volume on paper from the applicant, for the weddings and for the angler events. G. Hunt asked that the applicant be briefed by the Zoning Administrator on the requirements for a site plan as listed in Table 3.2 of the regulations.
- Maxham opened the hearing for comments by members of the public. He said there were letters that had just been received and they should be read aloud so that all could hear them and called first for the letter from Mr. Lavrey. Mary Kim Lavrey said that she had written the letter and suggested that it be posted, and she would be happy to summarize it. Mary Kim said that for her it is not the cars that attended the angler event, but trucks with wide trailers and boats. She said that Featherbed is a quiet, dead-end road, narrow and windy, and the stream of traffic for the angler events she found disturbing. She said that the neighborhood had serious problems with the water system and was unsure how these events would impact the water situation. M. Taylor-Varney said that Featherbed had a private water district, over which the Board had no jurisdiction.
- Maxham asked the Kellys to read the letter that they just submitted. G. Kelly said that they had sent two letters, one a couple of weeks ago, and another today. G. Kelly said that she would read the letter submitted today. G. Kelly said in her letter that her parents had purchased their property adjacent to The Anchorage in 1948 and there had never been an issue with The Anchorage, which is a quiet fishing camp. She said that she wanted to support The Anchorage as a fishing camp, however she opposes having wedding venues in a residential neighborhood. She said that nine of the closest families are senior citizens and that having to listen to loud music and guests until 10:00 p.m. is not in character with a fishing camp. She said that the additional traffic is incompatible the narrow road, which is not designed for heavy use, and would put pedestrian traffic, pets, and children at risk. She said that having weddings at The Anchorage would reduce property values on Featherbed Lane, would increase road fees, and place strain on the water system. She said she supports the continued use of the cabins and fishing camp.
- Kelly read the letter he had submitted. Reading the letter, he said that he did not feel that the application adequately describes the proposed impact of parking 100 cars and bringing in 200 or more guests. He said he wondered if the water and septic systems are capable of supporting weddings and banquets. T. Kelly said that they had ignored the increased traffic over the past few years and expressed the concern that the additional traffic would increase the cost of road maintenance for every homeowner and impact the recreational use of biking and walking on the road. He said the adjacent homes would be subjected to increased noise levels when events are held.
- Maxham called on Herb Kaufman. H. Kaufman said that he is happy to have his letter on record but also wanted to make some talking points. H. Kaufman said that he is at 100 Featherbed Lane, directly across from The Anchorage. He said that he is not opposed to the fishing tournaments but is concerned about the proposal for 8 conditional uses – 8 weddings, which would be the whole summer. He said that the applicant bought a fishing camp, not a wedding venue. He said that a wedding venue is not a reasonable or foreseeable use of the property and that use as a wedding venue would not pass the test of having no undue adverse effect as defined in the Town’s regulations. H. Kaufman said that weddings with traffic, noise and crowds that may last up to three days are not in keeping with the character of the area and would impact the residents’ enjoyment of their property. He said that the parking areas, aligned along the road, will ruin the scenic nature of the small, rural road. He said that the Steadmans’ pledge to accommodate parking on their property should not be regarded as a part of the solution since it is a commitment that could be revoked. H. Kaufman said that the increased volume of traffic is a safety risk, particularly if guests are driving while impaired, and that the road is not designed to accommodate traffic related to special events. In places the road barely has enough width to support two-way traffic. Mr. Kaufman said that the combined issues of character of the neighborhood, noise, parking capacity, traffic, and water problems should prompt the Board to deny the proposal.
- Maxham called upon Marilyn McConnell to read her letter. M. McConnell said that her grandparents leased property at 118 Featherbed Lane road in 1920. She said that the essence of the neighborhood’s character has been maintained over the years, that she is grateful that the fishing camp attracted families who returned year after year to enjoy quiet low-key vacations and is concerned that expansion of the permitted use will have detrimental impact on the quality of life. She said that the application is inadequate to assess how the special events would impact adjacent property owners and offered several examples in the areas of signage, traffic, business hours, parking, capacity of lodging, detail of the site plan, noise, and impact on the road and water system. She expressed concern that the owner would seek to expand the conditional use in the future, that property values would be impacted, and that the increased volume of guests would infringe on the enjoyment of their adjacent property, beach front, and use of the water.
- Taylor-Varney called upon Chris Morse to read his letter. C. Morse said that he owns 83 Featherbed Lane and has easements for recreational use of the beach owned by 117 Featherbed Lane (The Anchorage). He said the application does not mention his easements and wants them to be added to the application site plan and accepted. He said that his deed entitles him to unencumbered access to and from Lake Champlain for bathing, docking, landing, mooring, and storing of boats, and for other purposes for which beach areas are commonly used. The easement provides that a dock may be erected and maintained within the easement area, but no other structures can be erected. C. Morse said his deed also provides easements over land that allows him to reach the recreational easement by foot or motor vehicle. He said that if there are vehicles or other impediments preventing access that it would be in violation of his easement. C. Morse said that the increased noise and vehicle access for events would have a direct effect on the value of his property, one of the chief virtues being its location on a quiet, dead-end road. C. Morse also cited adverse impact on the water system, the road, and safety on the road.
- Maxham called on Charles & Clair Rousseau. C. Rousseau said that he lived at 79 Featherbed Lane, within ¼ mile of the Anchorage. His letter expressed concerns shared with other neighbors over traffic, noise, safety, and consumption of alcohol. He also expressed concern that the owner would seek to expand the conditional use to additional events if successful. C. Rousseau said they moved to the neighborhood because it is a quiet secluded cul-de-sac and granting conditional use would adversely impact his quality of life and property values.
- Maxham clarified that a conditional use permit, if granted, would specify the maximum number of events, and could impose additional conditions. M. Taylor-Varney said that the conditional use could be worded to prevent the transfer of the conditional use when and if the property changed hands.
- Maxham recognized G. Echenberg. G. Echenberg asked for clarification of the approval process and asked for a copy of the application. T. Maxham said that the Town’s Development Review Board is in a public hearing for the application, which could include a site visit. Upon completion of the hearing, the Board will approve or deny the application. M. Taylor-Varney clarified that the Board does not have jurisdiction over the private road or the water system. She said that the hearing is held so that the Board can take input from not only the applicant but also abutters and residents. J. Brightwell said that the Board’s decision is based upon the regulations in the Town’s bylaws, which are posted on the Town’s website. G. Echenberg asked if the Board is also the agency that sets conditions of the approval. M. Taylor-Varney said that the Board can set conditions on an approval. L. Kilcoyne said that there are other State regulations that may apply where the Town does not have jurisdiction.
Barbara Carter said that there was one wedding in 2019, during which she and her husband had dinner on their deck, and that for them the noise was not a problem.
- Maxham said that if a decision is made by the Board in favor of the applicant, participants in the hearing can appeal the decision to the State Environmental Court.
- Taylor-Varney called upon R. Brezinsky. R. Brezinsky said that the wedding mentioned by Barbara Carter was disturbing to them at 54 Featherbed. She said that the road near their property is straight, there is no regulation or enforcement of speed on the road, and the trucks with boats behind them take up the whole lane. She expressed concern with access by safety or fire in congested conditions. She also expressed concern that the applicant had already violated their existing conditional use by holding a wedding.
- Taylor-Varney said when the Morrissettes came to her for a building permit and mentioned that they had hosted a wedding and fishing tournaments, she recommended that if they wished to continue these activities, they should come into compliance by adding these uses to their existing conditional use. She said that she had not received any complaints regarding the previous events. She said in most situations regarding violations, its just that most people don’t know the regulations.
- Taylor-Varney called upon Sara Wallace-Brodeur. S. Wallace-Brodeur said that she had not heard the wedding from her house, had happened upon it walking her dog, and did not find it noisy. She said she had attended a couple of the bass fishing events and found it very low-key. She said that David and Melissa were trying to run a business and wanted to be respectful of their neighbors.
- Taylor-Varney called upon Mick McConnell. M. McConnell said that his grandfather bought their property next to The Anchorage in 1920. He said that a single one-off event is not the issue, but rather the issue is an escalation to eight events per year. T. Maxham said the applicant is applying for 2 fishing derbies and 2 weddings per year, and that if the Board did approve it would put a limit on the number of events that could be held.
- Kaufman said that the application showed up to 8 events. M. Taylor-Varney said that 8 is on the original application, but the application has been amended to “up to” 2 fishing tournaments and 2 weddings. The fishing tournaments are in September and October. D. Morrissette said that the only wedding on the docket is for July. He said their business does not call for special events during the season – their business is 80% families, and 20% fishing, and it is mostly in the shoulder seasons when they would seek to hold up to 4 special events. He said that this would not cause any more traffic than what had been experienced during the previous four years.
- Morrissette said that they park all cars off the road, but he has had a neighbor who holds a party every year where the cars are parked on the road and the music goes late into the night, and that he felt he was being singled-out because he was a business. He said he is trying to keep The Anchorage as it was with the Steadman’s while also bringing the business into the 21st century.
Marilyn McConnell said that the nature of the neighborhood is that it is not a 21st-century community, but rather it is an opportunity to get away from noise and congestion.
- Kelly said that it is confusing that the original application is for 8 events per year, which is the whole summer. M. Taylor-Varney said the testimony tonight amended the application to 4 events. M. Taylor-Varney asked D. Morrissette if they were actively soliciting wedding events. D. Morrissette said that they did not solicit weddings, but as in the case of the proposed July wedding, people sought him out.
- Morrissette said that over his four years of operation, he had lengthened the average duration of stay, which gives him an opportunity to educate residents regarding road safety. He said he felt that the road is under-posted – there were only two speed limit signs, both on the way in. He pointed out that there were three houses built, and several sold, which also contributed to traffic on the road.
Hearing no further questions or testimony, the Board agreed to conduct a site visit on Saturday, 3/13 at 11:00 a.m. G. Hunt said that he was unavailable in the morning but would with the permission of the Board visit the site late that day. The Board and applicant were agreeable.
- Hayward moved to schedule a site visit on Saturday, 3/13 at 11:00 a.m. D. Patterson seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation. T. Maxham said that the public is invited. M. Taylor-Varney said that no testimony would be taken during the site visit.
- Patterson moved to recess the hearing to April 14th at 6:00 p.m. G. Hunt seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation.
Old Business None
Review of Minutes
- Kilcoyne moved to approve the minutes of February 24th. D. Patterson seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation.
- March 24th. Conditional use / site plan review for a food truck at the Green Frog, and a combined 3-lot subdivision with a PUD at Keeler Bay Campground & Marina.
- April 14th. Bayview Crossing hearing for final site plan review; continuation of hearing for conditional use / site plan review for The Anchorage.
- April 28th. Conditional use / site plan review for food truck at Goulet Farm; conditional use / site plan review for a food truck on Ferry Road for Victoria’s café.
- Zlotoff conditional use/site plan review for the Car Museum (first floor of the Zlotoff Tool Museum barn) date TBD.
Motion to Adjourn
- Hunt moved to adjourn to deliberative session. The motion was seconded by W. Rowe and passed by acclamation. The meeting was adjourned to deliberative session at 8:29 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.