Zoning Board of Adjustment Members Present – Stanley Markowski – Chairman, Rick Conway – Vice Chairman, Nicholas Michael and Jack Orvis.
ABSENT: Clarence Greeno, Dan Adams and Ed Keith, Jr.
Others Present – David Cooper, Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator and Kelly Giard – Recording Secretary
S. Markowski, Chairman, called the Zoning Board of Adjustment to order at 7:10 PM and explained that the members present constituted a quorum.
S. Markowski introduced the members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
S. Markowski stated that this was a continuation of the November 27, 2017 hearing, which was also recessed to January 22, 2018 when the hearing was recessed to March 12 because the applicant had not received the material to be presented.
Motion by R. Conway and seconded by J. Orvis to approve the agenda as presented.
S. Markowski swore in residents that were not sworn in at the initial November hearing.
S. Markowski introduced the applicants and their representatives, Matt Casey (Developer), Atty David Cooper, Frank VonTurkovich (property owner), Abby Dery (engineer), Wendy (traffic study professional)
Atty Cooper read a letter that was dated March 8, 2018, which was also submitted as evidence for the project. The first topic that was discussed was the January objection that was submitted by Ms. Rawlings (neighbor). Atty Cooper stated that the project would not impact the easement at the Rawlings property. Atty Cooper explained that VTRANS has not given a formal position on closing the secondary driveway. VTRANS has the Right of Way on the property and there was no knowledge of an easement. S. Markowski asked Atty Cooper to point out where this easement was on the property drawings. Atty Cooper stated that the apron to the road was VTRANS property and would need to be addressed at the Permit 1111 hearing, which Ms. Rawlings would need to attend to discuss the issue.
Ms. Rawlings stated her concern that the “path” would impact her driveway. Ms. Dery stated that there would be no impact and was similar to other driveways that sidewalks cross.
S. Markowski inquired if the Route 7 upgrade would include a curb or curb cut to the project. Ms. Dery stated that nothing was shown on the current plans. Atty Cooper stated that access would be via the southerly drive to the Rawlings property and that the current VTRANS policy is to remove non-necessary driveway accesses. S. Markowski inquired if there was a Right of Way on the Dollar General property. Atty Cooper stated that the Right of Way is limited to the property that is owned and the Right of Way is never owned by the owner of the parcel. The easement of access was given and not changing with the project. The proposed fence would be located a couple of feet from the property line and the driveway is unusable to the project.
Atty Gallivan was present representing Ms. Rawlings. Atty Gallivan stated that Ms. Rawlings did not receive notice of the hearing, neither did her office. Atty Gallivan stated that she did receive the letter from Atty Cooper “last week” and feels that nothing regarding the easement has changed since the initial November hearing. VTRANS said that they would remove the curb cut on the easement and that the development would have no impact on the Rawlings property. S. Markowski inquired what would happen if the project were to fail with regard to the Right of Way and block the secondary entrance. Atty Gallivan stated that she did not know what would happen. Ms. Dery stated that VTRANS limits driveway accesses to 1 access. Atty Kupferer inquired if VTRANS would close the western access if the project was approved. Atty Cooper stated that there is nothing official and any Right of Way access blocking would be dependent on the Permit 1111 discussion and not project specific to close the access. Atty Kupferer inquired if the project was on VTRANS’ “radar”. Ms. Dery stated that she was not sure at this point. S. Markowski inquired if the fence would protect the Right of Way as the plans show nothing with the fence specifically showing whose property the fence is located.
Atty Gallican stated that the Right of Way is the right to access the property and the property rights would be affected. Atty Cooper stated that this is the wrong assumption as the Right of Way is to the VTRANS property. Atty Kupferer stated that the fence is giving up the usage rights.
Mr. VonTurkovich stated that the secondary driveway was installed by the Kelley’s when they had their store, that was also located on the property and the Rawlings were granted an easement to use the driveway. VTRANS has stated that there would be no interference with the Rawlings property.
Atty Cooper stated that the intersection at Plains Road would be redesigned to address some of the safety concerns that have been raised. Ms. Dery stated that VTRANS is proposing the realignment of Plains Road and is working with residents to the north of the intersection to obtain Right of Ways to make this project happen sooner than later. The proposed radius would match VTRANS design with a right turn lane and a sidewalk, that would extend onto Plains Road. Wendy stated that the Traffic Impact Study has been completed and the results are consistent with the future VTRANS plans for the area. S. Markowski inquired if the permit has been obtained. Ms. Dery stated that the application needs to be submitted. R. Conway inquired who the Lead Person is at VTRANS. Ms. Dery stated that she is working with Theresa Gilman and Christopher Cloud. Mr. Gillien inquired if there would be an effect on the area if cleared by VTRANS. Ms. Dery stated that the approval is in the works and Mr. Casey stated that the hope is to have a construction in the 2019 season. Atty Kupferer inquired if there is any contract with the property owner to the north of the intersection. Mr. Casey stated that there is a verbal agreement and the formal documents are in the works. Mr. Morgan stated that he appreciates the change at the intersection, however, no decision can be made based on future projects. Atty Cooper stated that there are stipulations prior to operations. Mr. Bishop inquired if the traffic studies included residents that would turn at Pine Woods Road to Terounzo Road to Plains Road to avoid the Route 7 and Plains Road intersection. Mr. Bishop stated that there are 2 daycares on the Terounzo Road and an increase of traffic concerns him. Wendy stated that the details regarding the Route 7 intersection looked at the traffic only at the Plains Road intersection. Atty Cooper stated that he understands Mr. Bishop’s concerns and there may not be any way to alleviate neighborhood traffic. Mr. Bishop stated that personal vehicle traffic is not his concern, however, the delivery truck traffic is his main concern. S. Markowski inquired if the traffic study was in line with the current volume. Mr. Bishop stated that he used to live in the area and the flow increases as inconveniences arise. Ms. Tinsman inquired if the property owner to the north of the intersection would have to obtain and Act 250 permit and be conditional. Atty Cooper stated that it is the state process to present the project to the Zoning Board, then to Act 250 for permits.
Deb Reynolds stated that she counted cars on Plains Road on Monday, January 29 from 4:13 PM – 6:13 PM and there were 153 cars; on Wednesday, January 31 from 4:13 PM – 6:13 PM there were 189 cars; and on February 2 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM there were 183 cars.
A resident inquired if the Army Corps of Engineers has issued permits for the project. Ms. Dery stated that the Army Corps of Engineers permits were not required as there will be State Wetlands permits required.
Ms. Rawlings inquired the timeframe for the traffic study. Wendy stated that this was focused at the PM “peak time” of 3:45 – 4:45 PM. VHB has gone out twice since the last meeting focusing on 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM and the counts were consistent. Wendy showed the numbers on a slide that the audience could review and ask questions for discussion. S. Markowski inquired if the turning was onto or off of Plains Road. Wendy stated that all directions were compared.
Ms. Rawlings inquired if the sidewalks along Route7 to the Plains Road would affect the flow of traffic. Wendy stated that the installation of sidewalks would make the area safer as there would be no signalized intersection. Atty Cooper stated that the intersection would direct pedestrians south to the crosswalk.
Denise Mahoney stated that she lived on Plains Road for 9 years and the traffic volume from the store would add to the congestion at the intersection going both north or south. Peter Cady stated that the traffic flow chart does not take into consideration that not everyone stops for pedestrians in the crosswalks and that everyone has to wait to exit off of Plains Road onto Route 7.
Tammy Hitchcock presented a board of pictures that were taken at the North Main Street Rutland store that showed more than 1 tractor trailer unit per week, that was proposed in the initial presentation. The members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment received individual copies of this presentation for review.
Mr. Bishop in quired if there was a plan to require any delivery vehicles access the property via Route 7 and not through the neighborhoods. R. Conway inquired the date that the Kelley’s installed the curb cut and stated that other businesses along Route 7 have access. Mr. VonTurkovich stated that residents wanted the access off of Plains Road when the Post Office was proposed in the area because of safety concerns.
Theron Malay stated that the realignment might help the turning radius onto the property, however, the radius, or parking spaces that would be impacted was not known in November. Mr. Malay stated that turning does not start on Route 7. Mr. Malay presented evidence regarding the turning radius’. Ms. Dery stated that her firm uses a program called AutoTurn to calculate spacing in the driveways and the data is tested in other Dollar General project sites. Ms. Dery stated that the intersection would be redesigned with VTRANS input. Atty Kupferer stated that the access could be designed so that the trucks do not have to wait to turn. Ms. Dery stated that parking spaces can be striped for this turn. Jeff Biasuzzi stated that there was a constraint with the trees that are in the area and a possible solution would be to widen the entrance to the property.
Rishi Connelly stated that the presentation and the application do not work for the area and inquired why the discussion to make it work.
R. Conway inquired the turning radius of Plains Road and felt that members should make a site visit to assess the area. Ms. Dery stated that the width of Plains Road was 22’ and the widened width would be 25’.
Mr. Malay stated that the turning radius to Plains Road is a concern to traffic as he has witnessed a truck turning onto Plains Road and was in the opposite lane during the turn.
R. Conway inquired the pictures that were presented by Ms. Hitchcock on the property and inquired where the delivery area would be located. Mr. Casey explained that the parking, truck and loading areas would follow standard business code. S. Markowski inquired how the parking would be handled. Mr. Casey stated that the employee vehicles could be blocked for vehicles to enter the property. S. Markowski inquired the lot to the east and if there were restrictions to widen. Mr. Casey stated that this was not proposed due to the trees.
Laurie Pelkey stated that the delivery drivers would sit on the road and wait to access the property as they are not Dollar General employees.
Mr. Morgan stated that in November the proposal was for 1 tractor trailer unit per week. S. Markowski confirmed 1 Dollar General tractor trailer unit and the other vendors would arrive in smaller trucks. Mr. Casey confirmed this statement.
Ms. Lalancette stated that on November 27, Mr. Casey stated that he did not know the truck sizes and that the parking lot was proposed for 35 spaces. Ms. Dery explained that the parking formula was based on Zoning Regulations and that if 1 space was striped off for delivery vehicle turning ease, that the space would be relocated elsewhere on the property or apply for a waiver for the space.
Ms. Reynolds inquired what the trucks would do if there were trucks already delivering and they could not access the property. Ms. Dery stated that the second truck would wait on the road. Atty Cooper stated that the parking lot was designed to the regulations and hypothetical. Ms. Dery stated that the project is designed to the Dollar General prototype.
Alicia Malay stated that children would “flock” to the store after school for “cheap candy” and inquired the use of the crosswalk. Wendy stated that the traffic would slow for the pedestrian traffic.
Craig Pelkey stated that the entire project is hypothetical and inquired how long Dollar General usually operates before closing. Ms. Pelkey stated that there were 4 tractor trailer units at North Main Street at random times during the same week. Ms. Pelkey stated that the application states that delivery is only during business hours.
Ms. Connelly read the Town Plan page 22 and the Zoning Regulations section 503 c.
A resident inquired the sales projection for the store. S. Markowski stated that it is not the Board’s responsibility to gather data on the sales. Ms. Gallivan inquired the average length of business, the number of tractor trailer units per week and the number of ancillary trucks and size would be delivering regularly. Mr. Casey will confirm with the client, however, believes that there will be 1 tractor trailer unit per week and the ancillary trucks would delivery when necessary. Mr. Malay stated that Dollar General has no control over the delivery of the ancillary trucks.
Mr. Pelkey stated that the community needs to research, however, the correct information needs to be presented. S. Markowski stated that the facts and statistics need to be presented.
Betsey Morgan inquired how traffic would be aware of the crosswalk. Ms. Dery stated that this would be an unmarked crosswalk with no flashing lights, however, there would be signs present.
R. Conway stated that information was not received with the items that were removed from the plans. Mr. Casey stated that the changes were in the presentation and Atty Cooper stated that the information was included in the letter.
Ms. Morgan inquired when the process would stop. Atty Kupferer stated that with the concerns that are being raised, there can be a resubmission and the applicant is not getting an advantage by being allowed to resubmit. Atty Kupferer continued by saying that this process is more feasible and it is not uncommon to recess the hearings to allow people good opportunity to speak.
Ernie Clerihew presented a news article concerning Dollar General, which was entered into evidence.
Ms. Reynolds inquired if there would be an impact on the school bus traffic with the stops in the area.
Mr. Gillien stated that the project does not fit the character of the area and this is a major concern.
Motion by R. Conway and seconded by N. Michael to recess the hearing to March 26, 2018 at 5:30 PM at the site and a continuation at the Lothrop Gym following the site visit. Motion passed unanimously 4- 0.
Meeting recessed at 9:23 PM.
Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary
Following the seven day comment & review period by ZBA Members, the Chairman is duly authorized to approve these Minutes on behalf of the Zoning Board of Adjustment;
Approved this __________ day of March, 2017 by:
Stanley Markowski, Chair
Items entered into evidence:
‘A’ – letter dated March 8, 2018 and new plans from Atty Cooper’s office
‘B’ – Photos by Ms. Hitchcock
‘C’ – Newspaper article from Ernie Clerihew
‘D’ – Presentation by Mr. Malay
‘E’ – Information from Mr. Gillien
‘F’ – Information from Ms. Lalancette