October 31, 2014

Eight housing projects moving forward

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Eight development projects cleared a planning hurdle last week after gaining building allocation through the town’s growth management process.

The projects range from simple two-lot subdivisions to more ambitious multi-building projects.

The Development Review Board’s annual growth management review—held just once a year—is the second step in the process to gain approval to build new homes or dwelling units in Williston.

Projects must first go through a pre-application review. Landowners and developers then compete for building allocation for a limited number of units in town. The system is set up to ensure that growth does not outpace infrastructure, and it encourages development in the Taft Corners growth center. During this year’s review, there was enough allocation available for all the projects. The final step before building is a more detailed discretionary permit process, where the DRB must give formal approval for a project.

Altogether, the DRB handed out 27 units of allocation on March 12, after it reviewed the projects in executive session.

The town is in the last year of the current 10-year growth management system, laid out in Chapter 11 of the Williston Development Bylaw, which runs through June 30, 2015. The Williston Planning Commission is currently in the process of developing a new growth management system.

Town planning staff scores all projects before the growth management review. Projects gain points for things like energy efficiency, affordability, conservation and trails. While the minimum score is 30, smaller projects can struggle to reach that score. So, the DRB can give allocation for up to four units that do not meet the minimum score.

Two projects were proposed within the town’s sewer service district.

O’Brien Brothers Realty gained seven units of allocation for two multi-family structures with four dwelling units each on two abutting vacant lots on the southwest corner of South Brownell and Shunpike roads. At one time, the property had a house, which means the property already had one unit of allocation. Three of the units would meet the town’s definition of perpetual affordability at 100 percent of the area’s median income and trails are planned.

Don Harrington and Peter Yee gained allocation for a nine-unit project off Mountain View Road, just west of Katie Lane. The project would involve four duplexes and a single-family home on a private road for a total of nine new units on 17.1 acres. The lot has an existing single-family home, located at 474 Mountain View Road.

The remaining projects were proposed outside of the town’s sewer service area.

David Herskowitz received allocation for five units on Christmas Tree Lane, though several neighbors turned out to express concern with the plan, especially the houses’ visibility from the road and the layout of a planned trail.

Herskowitz plans a seven-lot subdivision. The Herskowitzes have an existing dwelling on one of the lots, the second 40-acre lot would be designated as open space and a third lot would have a private drive for five single-family home lots.

Allocation was also granted to a number of smaller subdivisions in the ARZD.

The board granted one unit to Mildred Reardon, Sarah Beers and Patricia Connelly, who had previously received allocation for the project but allowed it to lapse while they figured out their options. The project is for one unit dwelling as part of a two-lot subdivision on Oak Hill Road.

The project would include an easement for a trail along Oak Hill Road.

Peter and Linda Brownell also gained one unit of allocation for a two-lot subdivision on Lincoln Road for a single-family home. The property has an existing sing-family home.

Howard Novak gained two units of allocation for a three-lot subdivision to build two new homes on Golf Course Road. The property has an existing single-family home.

The board also gave one unit of allocation to Oak Hill Road resident Michael Bruce, who proposed a two-lot residential subdivision of a nearly 120-acre parcel. The project would involve one new house. Bruce currently lives in a single-family home on the property, which he also farms. Bruce is also in talks with Vermont Land Trust to conserve part of the property.

Residents Daniel and Becca Goldman also received one unit of allocation to build one new single-family home as part of a two-lot subdivision of their Sunset Hill Road property.

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