Village subdivision wins town approval

Churchview Estates will be located on Old Stage Road

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

A subdivision that would offer relatively low-cost housing for seniors has received town approval.

The Williston Development Review Board last week unanimously approved the 17-unit project dubbed Churchview Estates. The development, designated for those 55 and older, will be located at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Old Stage Road in Williston Village.

The housing will include 14 duplexes and three single-family homes. Prices will start at less than $200,000 and go up to about $250,000, said Rene Thibault, who owns the land and will develop the project.

The prices are far below the median of almost $300,000 for newly constructed homes in Chittenden County. The units, however, will be smaller than most new homes built in recent years, ranging from 1,200 to 1,350 square feet.

Thibault said he has already received inquiries from homeowners who are thinking of downsizing as they approach retirement.

“They want something that is smaller and easier to maintain and clean,” he said. “I just wanted to keep (the units) smaller, which makes them more affordable, too.”

Thibault said the homes’ estimated prices are based on the current housing market and noted that additional permitting requirements could drive up costs. He still needs to obtain a state Act 250 land-use permit before construction can begin.

At its Sept. 26 meeting, the Development Review Board briefly debated the project before granting final approval. In addition to numerous standard conditions of approval, the board required some homes to be reoriented and some parts of the site to be left undisturbed. Not even mowing will be permitted in those areas.

The requirements are intended to protect an unnamed stream that flows through part of the 9-acre parcel, said D.K. Johnston, the town’s zoning administrator.

Planning staff also worked with the developer to reduce the parking lot’s size and to shorten the subdivision’s access road so stormwater runoff is minimized. Stormwater is a major source of pollution for lakes, rivers and streams.

Traffic was also a concern during the town’s review process. The state Agency of Transportation gives the intersection of U.S. 2 and Old Stage Road a failing grade during peak traffic hours.

But the agency will not allow an access road connecting Churchview Estates directly to U.S. 2 because it would be too close to the intersection. The development will instead be accessed via Old Stage Road.

A study done by Trudell Consulting Engineers in Williston, which is working with Thibault, found that the additional traffic generated by the development would increase the current 60 second peak-hour delay at the intersection by eight seconds.

The development will include a mix of housing styles designed to fit with the surrounding area. The duplexes will include both two-story “townhouse style” buildings and side-by-side flats, Thibault said. One of the single-family homes will be a cape; the others will be ranches.

Thibault is a masonry contractor by trade. He said Churchview Estates is the first sizable subdivision that he has developed.

Debra Bell, project manager for Trudell Consulting Engineers, said her firm is “aggressively putting permit applications together” with the goal of receiving Act 250 approval and other permits by winter. Thibault said he hopes to obtain the remaining permits in time to start construction when the weather warms.

“Hopefully it all works out well and we’ll build some units starting next spring,” he said.