37-unit subdivision proposed for North Williston Road (11/25/09)

Nov. 25, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A large, grassy field off North Williston Road could become the home of a 37-unit subdivision.

The development, a mix of single-family homes and multi-family units, would be built on nearly 23 acres across from the Williston Golf Course. Williston’s strict growth management system, however, could make development of the project a years-long venture. Under the growth management regulations, new units in the zoning district where the subdivision would be built will not be available until after 2015. Permits for five units are available in the area prior to 2015.

At the end of October, the Snyder Group Inc. requested a pre-application permit, which will be reviewed by the Development Review Board at its next meeting on Dec. 8. Longtime Williston residents Alden and Phoebe Bryan, who have a home across from the proposed subdivision, own the land.

The Snyder Group, along with J.L. Davis Inc., is also developing the Finney Crossing project in Taft Corners, which has yet to begin construction. Developer Chris Snyder said the 37-unit subdivision would be a perfect development in helping the town create a more vibrant village.

“It meets a lot of our company’s goals and the goals of the town,” Snyder said.

According to plans, the development would contain two streets; a private drive would access five single-family homes and a public loop road would access the rest of the units. Four duplexes, along with a neighborhood park, would be built within the loop.

Snyder said some of the homes may be classified as affordable housing, though he couldn’t speculate on an exact number.

“It’s tough to say what will be affordable and what won’t be affordable in 2015,” he said.

The Bryan property is mostly flat with a few sections of Class 2 wetlands. The Allen Brook runs through the southwest corner of the land, which also borders the Williston Central School property. Proposals call for a trail to connect to existing footpaths and the nature trail boardwalk that spans the Allen Brook, allowing access to the recreation fields at the school.

Snyder said one of the main appeals of the Bryan property is its proximity to the village.

“Connectivity-wise, it’s perfect,” he said.

Phoebe Bryan said she and her husband, Alden, have owned the land since 1965. Farmer Ward Johnson frequently hayed the property for many years, Bryan said from her vacation home in Florida.

Senior Planner Matt Boulanger said the development would be a good fit in Williston’s residential zoning district.

“It’s a beautiful piece of land, close to the village with easy access to the school and town recreation paths,” Boulanger said.

The problem is there aren’t enough units available for construction allocation within the town’s growth management system. Only five units are available through 2015, and other projects could be competing for the same units in next year’s growth management review. More units could open up after 2015, but town planners and Planning Commission board members have decided nothing yet, Boulanger said.

“It’s harder to build in the places where we’re not encouraging growth,” he added.

In growth management, landowners compete annually for available building units. Availability is determined by the town’s limited sewer capacity. The Bryan property falls into an area that has few units available.

Boulanger said even though it might be several years before the proposed subdivision could be completed as designed, the site plan can be approved before any house is built.

“I believe they just want to get the ball rolling on this and put it out there,” he said.

Snyder said he’s hoping to receive allocation for the five units on the private drive to get started on the project. Once 2015 rolls around, Snyder believes his development will be in the forefront for new growth management allocation.

The next Development Review Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Town Hall.