Champlain Oil looks to move operations to Williston (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Champlain Oil Company Inc. is looking to move its main operations to Williston with a new office center and fueling facility for its fleet. Speaking to the Development Review Board Tuesday night, representatives from the company expressed hope that Williston could be an integral part of Champlain Oil’s future.

Paul Wamsganz, a planning and development official for Champlain Oil, said the company has outgrown its South Burlington location. Currently, Champlain Oil’s headquarters are on Dorset Street near the University Mall in South Burlington.

“We need an onsite facility that is coherent,” Wamsganz said. “Currently, we don’t have that. We’re excited about coming to Williston.”

The proposed commercial complex for Champlain Oil would be located off Marshall Avenue near the entrance of Shunpike Road. According to plans, the site would feature a two-story office building, storage and maintenance buildings, a truck wash and a fleet fueling facility.

Champlain Oil currently has a smaller fueling facility available for its trucks and other commercial trucking companies on Avenue C off Industrial Avenue.

The fueling facilities allow Champlain Oil trucks to fill their own gas tanks at wholesale costs. The company also allows other commercial operators to use the station for wholesale fuel, Wamsganz said.

Champlain Oil, which has been in business for more than 50 years, serves homes and businesses throughout Vermont and in parts of New Hampshire and New York.

In a meeting that stretched past midnight into the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Development Review Board “put off” any decisions on Champlain Oil’s pre-application permit until a future meeting, said Board Chairman Kevin McDermott.

Board members said at the meeting they wanted to see different layout plans, based on the proximity of fueling tanks and pumps to wetlands and an unnamed tributary of the Muddy Brook. According to plans, the fueling facility would be located 80 feet from the brook.

The proposed plans alarmed the town’s Conservation Commission, said Senior Planner Matt Boulanger. The commission recommended “flip-flopping” the site by building the office complex closer to the brook and putting the fueling facility farther away from the sensitive areas, he said.

Engineer Scott Homsted, with Krebs & Lansing Consulting Engineers, said the fuel tanks will be buried to state and federal regulations and not affect wetlands or the brook. Fuel spillage would be contained on site, he added.

“I don’t think distance matters as much as treatment,” Homsted said.

Homsted also said flipping the site plan would divert trucks to an entrance shared with a neighboring office complex. The current design makes it easier for trucks to enter and exit the facility.

McDermott said he didn’t see a “big deal” in possibly changing the site. He suggested moving the location of the tanks, as well as the pumps, but not changing the complete layout with offices and storage.

“I don’t think we’re looking at a wholesale flipping of your site,” McDermott said.

Board member Richard Asch asked company representatives if there might be a different way to lay out the facility.

“We want you to have the efficient design, but if there is a different way, we’d like to see it,” Asch said.

Champlain Oil officials said they were open to possible changes in the site design and said they would deliver any new plans to the Planning Department staff.