300 homes proposed for church property

Meadow with homes beyond it

A 54-acre meadow between the Allen Brook and Route 2A in Williston is slated for about 300 new homes in a development application filed in August with the Town of Williston. OBSERVER PHOTO BY JASON STARR


Observer staff

Snyder Homes, the developer of housing at Finney Crossing and Creek’s Edge in Williston, has submitted an application with the Williston Development Review Board to build roughly 300 homes on 54 acres off Route 2A.

The parcel was once permitted as a campus for the Essex Alliance Church, but the church has abandoned those plans. According to documents filed in August with the Williston Planning and Zoning office, the church, based in Essex, still owns the property; Snyder refers to it as the Snyder Williston Property in filings with the town.

A pre-application review of the project is the only item on the Development Review Board’s Sept. 14 agenda. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall and via Zoom.

Approval would allow the project to compete for building allocation in March under the town’s growth management system.

The neighborhood is drawn up as a mix of single-family homes (36), duplexes (40), multi-family townhomes (70), apartments (97 units in two buildings) and 65 senior housing apartments.

“These home types address a wide spectrum of the market and accommodate a diversity of tenants, from mature families to young singles to independent living seniors — all will find a comfortable home here,” Snyder Homes wrote in a description of the neighborhood filed with the town.

Company President Chris Snyder could not be reached for comment.

The red marker marks the 54-acre parcel, just east of Route 2A.

The acreage is now mostly open meadow, located just south of the Allen Brook at the end of Beaudry Lane. About two-thirds of the acreage is buildable, with about one third to be preserved as Allen Brook floodplain buffer and wetlands.

The neighborhood would have a 4-acre central park and a paved recreation path running north-south. The path would be a key pedestrian and cycling connection for Williston, linking a bridge over the Allen Brook that connects with paths into Essex Junction with existing trails at Taft Corners and Williston Village.

“This path links numerous neighborhoods to each other, as well as to schools, the library, retail locations and services,” the filing states.

This illustration shows three-story townhomes, from a Snyder Homes filing with the Town of Williston, that are part of the residential mix planned for the neighborhood.

Planning and Zoning Director Matt Boulanger noted that the sketches of the proposed three-story townhomes are more urban and modern-looking than what is currently built in town.

“The development is fairly different than any other residential development the town has seen,” he said.

The property is in the Taft Corners Zoning District, which is the subject of a comprehensive revision of zoning regulations that is currently underway. The new regulations are expected to incorporate “form-based code,” which would dictate the look of new buildings as opposed to current zoning regulations that focus on the uses allowed.

“There are some moving pieces with this project and the planning for Taft Corners that may affect the way it will build out,” Boulanger said, estimating that the neighborhood would take five to 10 years to complete.

The Williston Conservation Commission reviewed the project at its Aug. 18 meeting and made a series of recommendations for the Development Review Board to consider. They included requiring a habitat disturbance assessment, a runoff and erosion control plan and a wetlands assessment.