The development review board received a mix of natural resources, conservation, and development information at its March 5 meeting.

Before talking development, the board received an overview of the Natural Resources Committee’s mission and identified priority areas from committee chair David Crawford and committee member Duncan Murdoch.

The Natural Resources Committee’s mission is to “promote community awareness and recommend policy to sustain and enhance natural resources on behalf of current and future generations within the South Burlington community.” In adhering to this, the committee is offering its insight to the board and other city boards and committees.

The committee has identified seven priority areas which should be evaluated for significant developments: preservation of open spaces, riparian and wildlife connectivity, forest blocks and trees of importance, scenic views, conservation of aquatic resources, conservation of agricultural resources, and land management.

In terms of how, specifically, the committee would be involved, Crawford and Murdoch provided a handful of possibilities. The committee could review specific natural resource issues at the request of the DRB, invite the developer to meet with them to discuss the proposed project in the context of natural resources (this was done recently with Dorset Meadows), and possibly have joint meetings with the Recreation and Parks Committee and Bike/Ped Committee. The committee can also make use of two documents, one for defining when a development should be reviewed and another for defining which priority areas for each proposed development should be reviewed – a trigger points document and scorecard document, respectively.

“David and Duncan, I participated in a couple of city volunteer leadership meetings, and this is exactly what we were looking for with the cooperation from the committees – that expertise be brought to us when we have important decisions that are, frankly, out of our area of knowledge,” said Matt Cota, the review board vice chair.

Applications

• Continued Master Plan for the Dorset Meadows 150-unit planned unit development was initially on the agenda but was continued to March 19, the next regularly-scheduled public hearing.

• The board then heard from Donal Dugan, a project manager from Champlain Housing Trust, regarding an amendment to a previously-approved site plan at 435 Dorset Street, the existing Dorset Commons 104-unit multi-building residential complex. The amendment requests an updated landscape plan to remove trees that are too close to the buildings, Dugan explained. The city arborist has been consulted.

Staff notes explained that the project, which is in the Residential 7 District, was approved in 1977 and that the majority of the existing trees were there prior to the buildings being constructed. The city’s zoning administrative officer issued a notice of violation to the then-owner of the property in 2007 when trees were cleared and filled without a zoning permit. The violation was appealed, which was upheld by the DRB, and subsequently the owner filed an application for amended site plan for tree removal.

Marla Keene, the city’s development review planner, identified early on that there were other abutters that needed to be notified and that the hearing would need to be continued. Dugan and the board reviewed staff notes, and will go over building health, ecological impacts, and an updated, detailed proposed plan, among other items at the hearing continued to April 2.

• The board then heard from Peter Ewing who submitted a final plat application to subdivide an existing 13.2 acre undeveloped parcel on Cheesefactory Lane into two lots of 3.6 acres and 9.6 acres. The plan is to construct a single family home on the 3.6 acre lot, conserve the 9.6 acre lot, and provide access to three new home lots in Shelburne.

Staff noted that the project exceeds the one-acre threshold of impervious surfaces, which triggers a state stormwater permit. Ewing said that he is in the process of obtaining that permit, and the board closed the hearing as a condition of that permit being acquired.

• The board reviewed a sketch plan proposal to construct a parking lot for off-site storage of vehicles and an associated stormwater treatment facility at 2 Holmes Rd, the DS, LLC property. The vehicles would be non-registered inventory from Goss Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram on Shelburne Road, and it would not provide parking to the public or customers of Goss Dodge.

If the applicant does not wish to be classified as a commercial  parking facility, then there is no permitted use category, and storage is not a permitted use by itself, staff outlined in its memo. “It is  allowable as an ancillary function to a use on the property or as a part of a use, but here there is no related use existing or proposed on the property. Uses which are not permitted are prohibited under the LDRs.” The applicant must also provide an interior lot layout. The applicant will return with a revised plan based on the feedback provided.

• The final application received that evening is that of R.L. Vallee, Inc. an applicant who has had repeated discussions with the board regarding developing an expanded service station at 739 and 907 Shelburne Road. The applicant has gone back to the drawing board and returned with a sketch plan to demolish an existing hotel and a portion of an existing service station and to create a planned unit development consisting of an expanded service station with four additional fueling positions for a total of 12 and associated 4,500 sq. ft. retail sales. 907 Shelburne Road is the Maple Leaf Motel, which the applicant stated is “outdated” and has “run its course.”

Staff and the board walked through several issues with the applicant organized into two groups: use and layout. Under use, there are some existing non-conformities (i.e. canopy has a zero front yard setback, the existing use does not confirm to the traffic overlay district), applicability of planned unit development standards, relation to the Comprehensive Plan, traffic, and housing placement. In terms of layout, the board considered dimensional requirements, Urban Design Overlay District Standards, circulation, parking, and infrastructure improvements. The applicant considered staff and board’s recommendation to merge the lots in accordance with setback requirements.

Sandra Limoge, whose property is west and downhill from this fueling station, shared concerns regarding contamination. The property has been impacted by the release of fuel oil from the station into the soil and groundwater, and they are in the midst of an investigation with the State of Vermont to determine the extent of the contamination and come up with recommendations for remediation.

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