Thursday June 20, 2013
The June 6 Development Review Board review and closure of the University Mall LLC application may have only taken four minutes, but it means the University Mall will soon be able to start construction of a 6,000 square foot building for retail use and a drive-through bank.
Last year, with the adoption of Interim Zoning (IZ) in February 2012, City Council approval of applications were contingent on how proposed plans met the IZ goals. The University Mall LLC was one of the applications denied after City Council voted 4-1 in opposition of the project at 205 Dorset St. As a result, University Mall LLC later filed two lawsuits--one in Chittenden Superior Court, Civil Division, and another in the environmental court. The University Mall challenge alleged that the city failed to follow state law by not reviewing the application; further, the suit alleged South Burlington based its decision on Land Development Regulations that the city could potentially adopt, rather than current law and the Interim Zoning Bylaws.
This spring, the 2013 Council authorized staff and Council Chair Pam Mackenzie to sit down with the University Mall LLC to mediate settlement of the two lawsuits. At the May 20 City Council meeting, Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner explained how staff met with the University Mall LLC, its architect and engineer, to come up with a proposed project that would meet the business’ needs and the Interim Zoning goals. The application before Council still presented the 6,000 sq. ft. building proposal to replace a two-story building, along with a number of other features such as a door facing directly onto Dorset St., high level architectural design, pedestrian friendly access, and tasteful landscaping.
City Council approved the Interim Zoning application that night, and the city was released of litigation. More specifically, one suit was dismissed and another will result in judgement in the environmental court soon.
“I’m pleased we were able to come to this conclusion,” Councilor Helen Riehle said.
“I’d like to echo that appreciation to the UMall for being willing to negotiate,” Councilor Rosanne Greco added.
Greco moved to approve the application and the vote was unanimous. When it came before the Development Review Board two weeks later, Sheila McIntyre of Summit Engineering representing the University Mall explained the final adjustments to the proposal in response to previous comments from the board. The ATM will be pushed back to maintain a 15 foot setback and landscaping has been added to the front of the building as part of the proposal.
Chair Mark Behr had fellow board members first take a straw-poll about where they stand on the application. All were in favor. Board member Tim Barritt made the official motion to close the application, Board member Michael Sirotkin seconded the motion, and the five-person board voted unanimously.
SOURCE:Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent