By Carol Casey
At their meeting on June 18 the Development Review Board discussed a site plan application by John Koerner, the owner of Folino’s Pizza, to add picnic tables in an outdoor seating area south of their building and for a dumpster enclosure. In response to questioning about the parking situation, Koerner said he is continuing his efforts to reach an agreement with the owners of Shelburne Green to use some of their parking in the evening, but to date their talks have failed to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. He added that the lack of parking is self-limiting in terms of how many patrons can be served because if the parking lot is full, potential customers don’t stop. DRB alternate Dick Elkins objected to approving the application on the grounds that, in effect, the DRB would be sanctioning the conversion of what was originally permitted as an accessory use to the Fiddlehead Brewing Company into a primary use. The DRB voted to continue the application so that they could review previous decisions relating to Folino’s.
The DRB did approve a conditional use and site plan application for a new business, be. Skin Studio, at 77 Falls Road in the brick house just north of Barkeaters. Rachel Ahari, the applicant who will be running the business, said they will be offering clinical and organic facials and hair removal by electrolysis. The Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission recommended approval of the proposed sign.
Frederick (Fritz) and Maryann Horton filed a conditional use application for adding an 800 square foot addition on the north side of their home at 314 Champlain Drive for an art studio, as well as adding a three foot wide flagstone walkway, an extension of their existing stone wall, and the replacement of an existing deck. The McGowans, neighbors of the Hortons, expressed concern that the addition would interfere with their view of the lake. After discussion, the McGowans and Hortons agreed to a condition that the new addition would not exceed the height of the existing roofline, and the DRB approved the application with that condition.
The DRB next discussed an amendment to a preliminary plan application filed by K.H, LLC for a Residential Planned Unit Development at 75 Northside Drive. The original approval included duplex structures for all three lots within the PUD. Two duplexes have been built on each of the first two lots, but the applicant is now proposing to building 2 triplexes and 3 quadplexes on lot 3. All will be rental units. Richard Hamlin, the consulting engineer hired by the owners for this project, presented the plans. Most of the discussion focused on siting an easement for a path through the project. According to the Bike and Pedestrian Paths Committee, the site delineated on the plan has too steep a slope for a path. Given the contours of the property and its wetland area, options are limited for a path location. Hamlin agreed to discuss alternatives with the Committee before a final plan is filed. The DRB approved the preliminary plan with DRB member Bill Stuono abstaining.
DRB members then discussed the comments Bill Stuono had submitted to the Selectboard regarding DRB decisions. Stuono said he submitted his comments upon the recommendation of the Town Manager, and objected to the characterization of his statements as “accusations.” He also noted that he has filed a formal complaint against Gary von Stange, the Chair of the Selectboard, for his conduct of the Selectboard meeting at which his comments were discussed, and has requested public records of all e-mails and conversations about his comments prior to the meeting. Several DRB members said that they had been blindsided by Stuono’s comments and wished he had raised any issues of concern at a DRB meeting prior to submitting his reporting form. The DRB agreed that in the future, there should be internal discussion on issues before they are brought to the Selectboard,
Jeff Pauza asked Stuono to elaborate on his comment that the DRB was writing its own laws. Stuono cited the examples of PUDs in rural area, road frontage requirements, the Automaster display area, and the swimming pool in the lakeshore overlay district. Pauza noted that the DRB followed the town attorney’s advice in approving the first two projects Stuono mentioned. In reference to opinions from the town attorney, the DRB agreed that a majority of DRB members must request an opinion.
Pauza also questioned Stuono about his statement that the DRB was acting in a biased manner and with conflicts of interest. Stuono said he didn’t know of any instances where there were conflicts of interest, but added that he didn’t know where there might be indirect conflicts of interest from social and professional interactions among DRB members and applicants. DRB Chair Mark Sammut pointed out that the DRB has very clear procedures on conflicts of interest, and disclosed that Stuono had e-mailed him saying that Sammut’s relation with the Shelburnewood project had “raised eyebrows,” alleging that Sammut and his company were profiting personally from the project, and that the bidding process was not on a level playing field. Sammut noted that he has no personal ownership in the company which employs him, that he had disclosed that his company had done business with the applicant in advance of the deliberations, that the bid was awarded competitively in a rigorous process, and that he had distanced himself from the project once the bid was won. Stuono said he was merely reporting what he had heard and that his intention was to suggest that the DRB set a higher standard to avoid perceptions of conflicts of interest.
Sammut asked Stuono to elaborate on his comment that the DRB had never downsized a project and asked if Stuono believed it was the DRB’s objective to downsize projects. Stuono said he was merely reporting the facts and that he was not on the DRB to downsize projects.
The next meeting of the DRB will be held on Wednesday, July 16 at 7 pm in the Municipal Center.
By Carol Casey