February 23, 2018

Northridge review continues Tuesday

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

A permit hearing for the first phase of a 40-unit residential neighborhood on 44 undeveloped acres off Metcalf Drive will continue Tuesday in front of the Williston Development Review Board.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at town hall, 7900 Williston Road.

The hearing was recessed from the board’s Jan. 9 meeting, when the developer, Blackrock Construction, presented detailed plans for the homes and surrounding land while several residents of Southridge, just south of the proposed neighborhood, expressed concerns about the proposal.

Plans outline a mixture of condominiums and single family homes, new roads, a pool, park and recreation path.

“We look forward to moving this well-thought-out project forward and integrating our new neighborhood into the Williston Community,” Benjamin Avery of Blackrock wrote in a pre-hearing memo. “The plan has a broad mix of housing types, excellent connectivity, public use paths, community recreation features and substantial open space.

“We believe it is a natural extension of the existing settlement pattern … and (will) contribute to easing the ongoing housing shortage across Chittenden County.”

The clustered neighborhood layout is designed to protect wetlands and retain about 20 acres as open space. An environmental assessment found the development will have “no impact to core habitats, nor will it impede movement of wildlife species.”

Neighbors to the south took issue with the condominium-heavy development of phase 1, saying it will be out of character with surrounding neighborhoods.

“It clearly does not have the same feel as Southridge,” resident Susan Lord wrote in a pre-hearing email to the planning and zoning office. “If the second phase of the development is not completed, there will be a condo development in the middle of single family homes that clearly does not have the look and feel of the neighborhoods surrounding it.”

Also at issue is the developer’s request for a boundary line adjustment for a property on Metcalf Road in the Southridge neighborhood that would allow the Northridge access road to satisfy width standards and stream buffer requirements. Southridge residents beleive that such an adjustment would violate their homeowner association rules that prohibit subdivisions.

“Private covenants are not the same as regulatory requirements, and typically are not considered by the town in making permitting decisions,” the town’s planning and zoning staff wrote in a pre-hearing report. “That said, the (board) may wish to consider obtaining a legal opinion from the town’s land use attorney on this issue prior to taking action on this application.”

Last week, the developer submitted revised plans for Tuesday’s hearing based on feedback from the Jan. 9 meeting. The submittal increases the number of units in phase 1 from 18 to 21, and changes the housing mix to include eight single family homes. It also reiterates the boundary line adjustment request.

Board members Peter Kelley and David Saladino have recused themselves from the hearing because they are residents of Southridge.

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