Adversarial project takes next step in development process (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A proposed subdivision off North Williston Road is one step closer to becoming reality.

The Development Review Board granted a discretionary permit Tuesday night for a nine-unit development that has long caused strife among neighbors.

Co-applicants Jeff Atwood and Dana Hood, along with project engineer Debra Bell of Trudell Consulting, appeared before the board to discuss the latest plans for their project. The development would be located between North Williston Road and the Lefebvre Lane neighborhood.

About 20 residents from Lefebvre Lane attended the meeting, hoping for more compromise from Atwood in regards to the project’s access road. Residents have said Atwood needs to gain permission from their neighborhood association to build an access road in an area where wetlands would be minimally affected. Atwood said he would build the road at a different spot on Lefebvre Lane, though that spot would have a greater impact on wetlands.

Ultimately, state officials will recommend the best location for the access road during the Act 250 environmental permitting process.

Plans for the subdivision include moving the current Hood house a few feet on the property and dismantling the residence’s driveway. A triplex will be built, along with two duplex homes. A final single-family home will be built along with a separate garage, according to the plans. Of the nine units on the property, Atwood said seven would be designated as perpetually affordable housing.

Atwood and Lefebvre Lane residents appeared frustrated with each other during the meeting. Neighbors claimed Atwood had not been conciliatory during negotiations and gave only ultimatums. Atwood said he knew how to make deals and neighbors had not been open to negotiations.

Board Chairman Kevin McDermott urged both sides to find a way to work together, although he didn’t seem to believe it would be a possibility.

“This is one of the more adversarial projects we’ve ever had, in terms of the neighbors,” McDermott said. “I’d say it has to be at least in the top five.”