SOUTH HERO DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD September 23, 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: Allen Point Fishing Access:
- Diane Monti-Catania
- Brigitte Barrett
- Randy DeLong
- Russel Brown
- Joe Mackey
- Tom Clark (Local Motion)
- Peter Zamore
- Betty Perrotte
- Bruce Richardson
- Bob Reese
- Tom McEnany
Keeler Bay Fishing Access Parking Expansion
- Dan Riordan
- Lucas Jensen
- Kathy Murray
- Wm Biddle
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: Vermont Fish and Wildlife Site Plan review for upgrades to the Allen Point Fishing Access (21-15-MR037)
- Maxham opened the hearing at 7:00 p.m. and recused himself. D. Patterson assumed the chair.
Notice & Oath
- Hunt read the hearing warning. D. Patterson administered the oath to the attending members of the public.
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
Mike Wichrowski, Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
- Wichrowski said that he manages all of the Fish & Wildlife access areas throughout the state. The Department is proposing to improve the Allen Point Access Recreation Path from Martin Road to the angler access, about 3600 feet from Martin Road. Improvements will consist of cleaning ditches, cutting back brush, and adding gravel to the road surface, creating a crown in the road, and finishing the road with crushed stone similar to what is on the causeway. The Department proposes that if resources permit, they will also cut back brush on the causeway beyond the point where vehicular access ends.
- Wichrowski said that Fish & Wildlife has an 82.5’ wide right-of-way between Martin Road and about 2600 feet to the south for recreational access. The width of the right-of-way is the same as that previously held by the railroad. At some point prior to Fish & Wildlife acquiring the right-of-way, fee ownership of the property was sold to a private individual and now all of the homes along the waterfront now have ownership and the right-of-way now crosses these properties. At the point where the water becomes visible from the path, Fish & Wildlife has fee ownership all the way to the end of the southern point of the causeway where the Local Motion bike ferry is located.
The funding for the project is coming through the Federal CARES act and is specific for the purpose of enhancing outdoor recreation. $1.5M was allocated to the Department, and of that $100,000 is allocated to this project.
- Rowe asked if anything was going to be done to enhance the parking area at Martin Road. M. Wichrowski said that the parking area was put in by Local Motion to accommodate bikers and walkers and was not within the scope of the project. M. Wichrowski said that the parking area was adjacent to a wetland and enlargement might entail filling in the wetland.
- Brightwell asked M. Wichrowski to clarify whether adding any material to the existing parking area was within scope. M. Wichrowski said that they had focused on the road, which is in poor condition, and had not considered the parking area but it was not outside the realm of possibility that they could do something there.
- Brightwell asked M. Wichrowski to explain the arrangement between Fish & Wildlife and Local Motion regarding the access, noting that other accesses are usually reserved exclusively for anglers. M. Wichrowski said that in 2006 the Fish & Wildlife Board established a policy of priority uses that includes hunting, fishing, trapping, and boating at the accesses, and prohibited incompatible activities such as swimming. Other uses not specifically prohibited are at the discretion of Fish & Game. The Department entered into a 10-year license with Local Motion that allows Local Motion to operate a bike ferry for pedestrian and bicycle use. That license is revisited every few years, and is expected to continue for approximately 40 years.
- Brightwell asked if Fish & Game can regulate activities along the access that might be causing problems, such as parties or bonfires, by signage that prohibits certain activities. J. Wichrowski said that they have a sign at the kiosk at the entrance to the access, and that signage includes a summary of rules. That signage gives wardens the backing they need to ticket for activities that are prohibited at access areas. J. Wichrowski said he has discussed with neighbors putting up additional signage regarding fires and littering, and those signs have been ordered for installation at the angler area. J. Wichrowski said the warden for the area also covers Milton and Burlington and so has a busy district, but is aware of problems and encourages residents to call the warden directly (not the police barracks) if they are having problems.
- Brightwell asked if Fish & Game had jurisdiction over parking on Martin Road. M. Wichrowski said no.
- Rowe asked if Fish & Game would have a problem if Local Motion improved the parking. M. Wichrowski said Fish & Game would not have a problem if Local Motion undertook to improve the parking. He noted that Fish & Game might improve the parking themselves if there were sufficient funds left after the road was improved, given that the project funds were Federal money and not funds from license fees.
- Patterson opened the meeting for public questions.
Peter Zamore said that he has been using the access year-round for many years and especially supports the ditch-clearing to improve drainage. He said that potholes on the road are caused by the ditches filling up with leaves and leaving the water to run across the road.
Joe Mackey said that he walked the path most days and said he felt that 80% of the people using the path are not fishermen. He said that increased motor traffic was hazardous to cyclists and pedestrians and recommended 4-way stops at each driveway and other means to slow down vehicular traffic. Joe Mackey asked how many citations have been given out at the access. M. Wichrowski said that he did not have information citations. He said that the Department was planning to install speed bumps on both sides of every driveway, and also at least two other speed bumps on the stretch from the angler parking to the southern-most house to slow down vehicle traffic. He said that they did not currently have plans to install stop signs.
Bob Reese said there should be stop signs at driveways, and pointed out that the Local Motion crossings in Burlington Vermont have stop signs everywhere. He thanked M. Wichrowski for his site visit.
Tom McEnany said that his property backs up to the bike path. He said that he and his wife love the bike path. He asked if the path was to be widened. M. Wichrowski said no. Tom McEnany said he wanted to reiterate that speed was a problem and asked for stronger enforcement. Tom McEnany asked if there was yearly maintenance. M. Wichrowski said that Fish & Game tries to grade the road yearly but because there has not been enough material the grading doesn’t last. Tom McEnany asked if the growth behind his house bordering the path would be cut. M. Wichrowski said that the contractors would meet with the landowners to discuss the proposed work.
- Wichrowski said that he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and via the Fish & Game website vtfishandwildlife.com to sign up for the landowner meetings.
Betty Perrotte said her property was across from the parking area and was concerned that the vegetative barrier along the parking area not be further cut.
Brigitte Barrett said that there were a lot of cars at night going very fast, that she did not think they were anglers, and wanted to know if a gate could be erected to admit only anglers.
Hearing no further questions from the Board or audience D. Pattterson concluded the hearing at 7:43 p.m.
Hearing: Vermont Fish and Wildlife Site Plan Review for expanding parking at the Keeler Bay Fishing Access (21-14-SD038)
- Maxham resumed the chair and opened the hearing at 7:45 p.m.
Notice & Oath
- Hunt read the hearing warning. T. Maxham administered the oath to the attending members of the public.
Appearing on Behalf of the Applicant
Mike Wichrowski, Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
- Wichrowski said that the Keeler Bay Fishing Access is popular in early spring when the water is high, and during winter for ice fishing. Fish and Game is proposing to create an expanded parking area in a 100’ x 150’ lot across the fishing access road. The lot will be gravel. Ditches will be dug to capture drainage, and the existing culvert at Sunrise Drive and the access road will be replaced. Fish & Game is also proposing to provide vegetative screening on the property along Sunrise Drive and along the neighbor’s property to the south. The project is also funded by the CARES Act.
- Patterson said that he was concerned that there was over 11,000 square feet of impervious area but he did not see any plans for storm water management. M. Wichrowski said that he spoke with DEC engineers whom they work with on all of their projects and was told that a storm water management plan was not needed. The lot has a natural slope and water would be diverted into grass-lined swales.
- Patterson noted that there was nothing on the site plan for erosion sedimentation control during construction. M. Wichrowski said that it was less than one acre so no erosion control was required per the DEC storm water analyst for the area. T. Maxham noted that the site plan called for silt fencing; M. Wichrowski said that if it was on the plan it would be done and that he had been mistaken.
- Maxham said that there is no delineation of parking and asked how parking would be indicated. M. Wichrowski said that people could come in at an angle or all come in straight and park along the hedgerow. He said that the Department was trying to figure out how to indicate parking on gravel lots, and would sign the lot in the coming year. T. Maxham asked how many vehicles could be accommodated; M. Wichrowski said approximately 8 vehicles with trailers.
- Maxham asked M. Taylor-Varney to read the two communications received from the public regarding the application. M. Taylor-Varney said that she had received a phone call from Ernie Norris 542 Route 2. Mr. Norris expressed concern that the state does not maintain the fishing access road and wondered if the State would consider paving the road. M. Taylor-Varney said that she had also received an email from Shannon Winterbottom 36 Sunrise, adjacent to the proposed parking area, who expressed concern for maintaining a vegetative privacy screen, and expressed concern for the usability of the ramp due to rocks.
- Hunt made a motion to accept the communication from Ernie Norris into the record as Exhibit #1. D. Patterson seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation.
- Hunt made a motion to accept the communication from Shannon Winterbottom into the record as Exhibit #2. L. Kilcoyne seconded the motion, which passed by acclamation.
- Maxham invited M. Wichrowski to respond to the communications. M. Wichrowski said regarding the ramp, the State was removing the concrete from the old disintegrated ramp, but was not considering replacing the ramp because the site is extremely shallow for much of the year. M. Wichrowski acknowledged the poor condition of the road and said they would attempt to improve maintenance. Paving is not an option due to the cost.
- Maxham opened the hearing for public comment. Mitchel Richardson said he lives north of the fishing access on a private drive across from Sunrise Drive. He said that the State harley-rakes the road once per year and that he has complained many times about the road condition and drainage. At the parking area, vehicles drive over his property rather than back up to exit the parking area. He said that during ice fishing season there are frequently over 40 cars on the road, frequently blocking his driveway. M. Richardson said that the area needs more attention than just a new parking area and would like to see the existing problems addressed.
- Wichrowski said that Sunrise Drive residents do not have a right-of-way to use the fishing access road, which is owned in fee by the State, but the State does tolerate Sunrise Drive residents using the access road. M. Wichrowski said that the Department was working to improve maintenance of the road, but noted that they have to maintain 200 fishing accesses around the state, and they do the best they can with the resources they have. M. Wichrowski said they could put up signs such as “Private Road, Do Not Block” to prevent people from blocking M. Richardson’s driveway or Sunrise Drive. Regarding solving other problems, M. Wichrowski said the Federal money for this project was targeted and must be spent by the end of November, so time did not permit looking at other, larger problems regarding the fishing access. Mr. Wichrowski offered to meet with neighbors to discuss maintenance issues. In response to M. Richardson’s complaint about cars driving over his road from the parking area, M. Wichrowski offered to put boulders along the driveway to prevent driving from the parking area onto the driveway, a solution that M. Richardson said was a good solution.
- Maxham asked if the fishing access road was a part of Sunrise Drive. M. Wichrowski said that Fish & Game had an access from Route 2 to the lake and it was not part of Sunrise Drive.
- Maxham asked how wide the right-of-way was. M. Wichrowski said it was 20 feet wide. M. Richardson said that the road was actually wider than the right-of-way. T. Maxham said that the owner of the land, rather than the Town, would need to address that issue with the right-of-way owner, and that the issue at hand was the proposed parking area rather than the access road.
Lucas Jensen said his property is to the south of the parking area, that he was concerned that the current vegetative buffer was going to be removed, and that he wanted a non-deciduous vegetative buffer rather than lilacs in order to maintain a privacy screen. He also expressed concern that the State maintains the area.
Hearing no further questions from the Board or audience T. Maxham concluded the hearing at 8:30 p.m.
Old Business: None.
Review of Minutes
- Hayward moved to accept the minutes of September 9th, 2020. G. Hunt seconded the motion. The motion passed by acclamation.
The Administrator’s Report was delivered by Martha Taylor-Varney (Zoning Administrator).
- October 14th: No hearing scheduled; business meeting & deliberation only.
- October 25th: Mitchel Richardson hearing for revision to site plan ; Cathedral Square for preliminary site plan hearing for senior housing.
Motion to Adjourn
- Patterson moved to adjourn to deliberative session. The motion was seconded by N. Hayward and carried by acclamation. The meeting was adjourned to deliberative session at 7:30 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.