June 18, 2009
By Tim Simard
The Development Review Board revisited a request last week for a design change on several units in the Churchview Estates subdivision. Developer Rene Thibault asked the board to allow sunrooms to be built on eight units; the units were originally approved in 2007 for decks, not sunrooms.
The board unanimously agreed that four units, spread across two duplex homes, could be built with three-season sunrooms. Four units were denied the sunrooms.
The board agreed last July to allow sunrooms on two units. That duplex is thus far the only home completed in the development, located off Old Stage Road near U.S. 2 in the Village zoning district. Another duplex, also with two sunrooms, is under construction.
When completed, the Churchview Estates subdivision will be a nine-acre, private, senior living community. Plans for the 17-unit development call for a mix of duplexes and single-family homes. All will be two-bedroom, two-bathroom units with a two-car garage, with prices ranging from approximately $300,000 to $325,000.
After receiving permission to make changes to the two units last July, Thibault went before the board again in September to request changes on four more units. The board denied that request. Planning Director Ken Belliveau said the board asked Thibault for more information regarding the proposed sunrooms, since they would be changing the footprint of the homes. He said Thibault was not able to provide specifics at the time.
“The problem with the (Development Review Board) is that they were sort of guessing (at the final design),” Belliveau said.
Thibault appealed the board’s decision to the Environmental Court of Vermont. The court hears all appeals dealing with local development boards and can overturn decisions.
Belliveau said parties from the town and Churchview Estates attended a mediation meeting in March. It was agreed that Thibault could again request changes to any units he wanted, but that the Development Review Board did not have to approve the changes. Belliveau also said the mediator urged Thibault to bring an engineer to a future meeting with the board.
At the last Development Review Board meeting on Tuesday, June 9, Thibault’s engineer, Debra Bell of Trudell Consulting Engineers, accompanied him. Bell provided the board with detailed measurements and statistics for all units in question.
Though he eventually voted to allow the four new sunrooms, board Chairman Kevin McDermott appeared wary of the changes during discussion.
“We didn’t pass these (in 2007) to be as big as you want them to be, but that’s just my opinion,” McDermott told Thibault.
Belliveau said Thibault has the right to appeal the most recent Development Review Board decision. Belliveau also said if Churchview Estates can be fully built according to its plans, it would be a good addition to the village.
“If we had a little more population here, it’ll go a long way in helping to support the local businesses,” Belliveau said.