Growth management meeting March 24
By Stephanie Choate
A field on North Williston Road, frequently occupied by hay bales, could become the site of a new housing development.
Landowners Alden and Phoebe Bryan, along with developer Chris Snyder of Snyder Custom Homes LLC, are looking to build a 35-unit development on the land across from the Williston Golf Club.
The project is set to go before the Development Review Board during the town’s annual growth management meeting on March 24. It is by far the largest of several projects for which residents are seeking allocation.
The DRB’s annual growth management review—held just once a year—is the second step in the process to gain approval to build new homes in Williston.
Projects must first go through an initial pre-application review. Landowners and developers then compete for building allocation for a limited number of units in town. The system sets a pace for growth and encourages development in the Taft Corners growth center. The final step required by the town is a more detailed discretionary permit process.
The March meeting marks the first year in the town’s new 10-year growth management cycle, which was approved by the Selectboard in January.
As in previous years, the growth management system allows for 80 dwelling units per year, the majority of them in the growth center. Builders can dip into the allocation of future years, but the new system sets limits—up to 75 percent of the next fiscal year’s allocation and 50 percent of the years thereafter—to make sure there is enough allocation left at the tail end of the system.
“We didn’t want to be in the position we’ve been in for the last five years where there was simply nothing to give out, regardless of the competitiveness of the project,” Senior Planner Matt Boulanger said.
The new system also encourages housing diversity by counting studio or one-bedroom dwellings as half a unit. In addition, 25 percent of allocation is reserved for affordable housing.
“It’s a strong incentive, we hope, for affordable housing to be included,” Boulanger said.
The Bryan/Snyder development would require 34 units of allocation, since one is already allowed on the undeveloped lot, in what’s known as the sewer service area outside of the growth center.
There are 12 units of allocation available each year in that area, but only 75 percent can be doled out to any one project. Other residents are seeking three units of allocation in the sewer service area.
The Bryans and Chris Snyder of Snyder Homes hope to build 27 single-family dwellings, four duplexes, a children’s play area and a neighborhood park on the undeveloped 23.25-acre parcel, none of which would be designated as affordable.
Snyder said the units would be a mix of single-family homes, town homes and carriage homes.
“It will resemble some of the other neighborhoods that are surrounding it,” Snyder said on Wednesday morning. “It’ll fit right in.”
The majority of homes would be on a public loop road, with four homes on a private dead end road off of the loop road. There would be one access point from North Williston Road.
The single-family units would be three or four bedrooms, and the duplexes—located inside the loop road—would have two to three bedrooms.
Snyder said the location is appealing—near the middle school and historic village center.
“Williston has traditionally been a place that people want to live because of the proximity to services, the proximity to schools,” he said.
The proposal also includes plans for a primitive path connecting to paths on the Williston Central School property.
This is not the first time the project has come before the board. Snyder previously applied for growth management allocation in 2009—for 37 units at that time—but was not able to acquire all the allocation needed.
The current version of the project came before the Development Review Board in the fall for a pre-application review. During the meeting, several neighbors expressed concern about added traffic, the number of dwellings and changes it would bring to the neighborhood.
Snyder said that if the project is awarded building allocation at the growth management meeting, it likely wouldn’t be viable to begin construction until 2017 or 2018.
Other proposals seeking building allocation during the March 24 growth management meeting include the following.
Snyder Taft Corners LLC is requesting seven additional units on Zephyr Road, part of the Finney Crossing project.
Chad Shepard is requesting one unit on South Brownell Road.
Alex and Kathy Pintair are requesting two units in the village district at 7997 Williston Road.
Timothy and Wendy Miller are requesting three units on Spruce Lane.
Bart Brownell is requesting three units on South Brownell Road, on the border with St. George.
Sue Quinlan is requesting one unit on the west side of Old Stage Road, north of Mountain View Road.