Planning Commission Meeting Minutes 9.10.2020



Minutes of Meeting – Thursday September 10, 2020

Members Present: Chairman John Williams, Chis Heins, Charles Moore, Elliott Nachwalter, Garret Siegel, Michael Murno, and Bill Henry (Land Use Administrator)

Attendance Formats: Town Hall, Video Conferencing or Phone

Other Attendees:

Nick Zaiac, Town Administrator

Nick and Denise Monte, Village Peddler

John Broker Campbell, Vt. Agency of Natural Resources

Dr. Joshua Sherman

Brandon Hodges

Don Keelan

  1. The meeting was called to order at 7:04 pm by Chairman John Williams.
  • The minutes of the July 23, 2020 meeting were reviewed, and corrected prior to this meeting. The minutes were approved and accepted.
  • This is a special meeting to review the site plan and building modifications to 348 Old Mill Road, East Arlington, Vt. 05250. The building is in the commercial residential district and as it is being used commercially, it requires Planning Commission approval. Participation in the meeting is required in order to be heard at any future appeal.
  • This special meeting was requested by Dr. Sherman to address modifications to 348 Old Mill Road, East Arlington, Vt. 05250. The permit application was received by the Land Use Administrator today and assigned Application No. 3242. Dr. Sherman began the presentation by stating that East Arlington, especially the Candle Mill Village of the1970’s and 80’s, has always been a special place for him and his family. He and his family had been visiting the area since he was a child and he sees an opportunity to revitalize it through renovation and improvement. His plan is to bring the Old Mill Media (Stratton Magazine, Vermont Magazine, Vermont News Guide, and Manchester Life) publication office to 348 East Arlington early to mid-next year. In order to do so and make it productive, he needs a larger space. The building is in the floodway, and he has been discussing the expansion possibilities with John Broker Campbell. The plan is to add a vestibule to the front of the building, approximately a 12 foot expansion toward Old Mill Road and into the parking lot, and to raise the existing shed roof on the south side of the building, making the one story section of the building, two stories tall. In addition, the shed would be squared off to line up with the west side of the building.  The modifications in total would be approximately an addition of 700 square feet, but with the elimination of the third floor, it would be a net reduction in square footage. He has been actively discussing with John Broker Campbell what can and cannot be done. Charles Moore questioned the proposed increase in area of the building, since it is already in the floodway and our Bylaws (Section 7.12.10.a) do not allow an increase in building footprint in the floodway. John Broker Campbell acknowledged the encroachment in the floodway. Garret Siegel questioned the existence of a shed, as it was referred to multiple times during the presentation. Dr. Sherman explained that there was not a shed but a shed type roof section of the building currently one story that would be raised to two stories. Garret also questioned whether the second floor deck technically made a difference in floodway encroachment. John Broker Campbell (JBC) explained that the deck was designed as a cantilevered deck and it was way above the floodway elevation to be of any consequence. Regarding the squaring off of the building, Chris Heins asked JBC to comment on its effect on the floodway. JBC stated that there is a conveyance/encroachment shadow of flow that needs to be reviewed before its effect can be determined.

John Broker Campbell stated that there is a more significant issue than squaring off the building and increasing the footprint of the building in the floodway, and that is substantial improvement of a building within the floodway (Section 7.12.4). An improvement greater than 50 percent of the value of building in the floodway represents a substantial improvement that is not allowed by our Bylaws. Chris Heins asked JBC if energy code compliance costs were included in the upgrades NOT considered in the 50 percent value of improvements under the Substantial Improvement Definition. Dr. Sherman stated that he has had the fire marshal in and there are no current code deficiencies. In addition $120 – $180K worth of improvements are planned for the structure, and some of the work will be done by his own employees. With regard to who does the work, a value must be assigned to the improvement, regardless of who does it. Fair market value is a baseline for value; an appraiser would be best able to address fair market value. Dr. Sherman suggested that the value of the building could be determined by comparing it to similar use buildings; the studio might be a comparison; maybe the improvement to the whole property as a unit could be considered. There was significant discussion about substantial improvement and it was noted that the Bylaws do not prohibit substantial improvement in the floodway; they require that buildings that are substantially improved must meet the flood protection requirements and elevation standards, and be certifiedby an engineer, (Section 7.12.4a. 7). It was concluded that much more information was necessary, some of which must be prepared by analyses and appraisals.

Chris Heins stated that we need more information from the owner to determine full compliance with the Bylaw and made a motion to recess the meeting until the owner has resolved the following issues:

  1. The building encroachment into the floodway and its effects must be fully analyzed.
  2. A determination of the property value and whether the value of the planned improvement represents a substantial improvement (50 percent of the property value) in the floodway.
  3. An updated the site plan to show the extent of the planned modifications within the floodway.
  4. The need to respond to parking requirements (Section 7.5), for the site plan checklist review (Section 8.6), and performance standards review (Section 6.8).

Meeting was adjourned at 8:15 pm.  Our next meeting will be on Thursday

September 24, 2020. Respectfully submitted Michael Murno

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