Development Review Board: 06/03/2021

June 3, 2021

Decision of the Development Review Board (DRB) regarding appeal of Zoning Application 21-003

The applicant, Higher Ground Conservation Cemetery Association, has applied to change the use of a proposed 5 acre subdivision within the Manitou Project in Newfane’s Resource District. Currently this is conserved land and the applicant is requesting the use be changed to natural burial ground. This is an allowed conditional use in the resource district subject to DRB approval.

The Zoning Administrator denied the change of use application on March 9, 2021 and applicant appealed the decision to the Development Review Board. The appeal was heard at a public hearing convened on April 28, 2021 and continued to May 19, 2021.

Findings of Fact
1. Applicant has made test borings to determine suitability for human burials.
2. Applicant has submitted a site plan showing the parking area, interior access, pathway locations and approximate locations of gravesites.
3. A non-profit corporation, Higher Ground Conservation Cemetery Association, has been established to govern and manage the burial ground.
4. The proposed site is in a distinctly rural area and maintaining its character is extremely important.
5. Proposed access to the site is via a right of way whose legitimacy is seriously questioned by the owner of the property it crosses.
6. The project requires a number of approvals beside DRB’s and there are concerns some may be missed.

Conclusions of Law
1. The Newfane Zoning Administrator is responsible for approval/denial of the proposed subdivision and it will be based on the subdivision map as submitted. Resolution of the right of way issue is the responsibility of the disagreeing parties. DRB decisions are based on the subdivision as approved by the Zoning Administrator and on the assumption that there is a legal right of way as shown on the submitted subdivision map.
2. Based on its review of the application materials, presented testimony and Findings, the Newfane Development Review Board concludes this application when implemented with the conditions below does meet conditional use criteria of the Newfane Zoning Bylaw for natural burial grounds.

Application 21-003 is approved subject to the following conditions:
1. Approval is contingent upon and shall take effect upon issuance of final subdivision approval by the Newfane Zoning Administrator.
2. Right of way shall conform to Newfane Zoning Bylaw paragraph 412
3. Operations are restricted to daylight hours
4. No vehicles or mechanical equipment shall be stored on site
5. Lighting and signage are to be limited to that necessary to maintain safety
6. No buildings are to be added to the site without DRB and Zoning approval
7. Right of way, access to Sunset Lake Road and parking area shall be designed and built to provide maximum safety for vehicular and pedestrian traffic
8. Landscaping and forest management are to be executed in a manner that reflects and blends-in with the character of the surrounding Manitou property
9. The applicant shall contact and work with the permit specialist at the Department of Conservation to determine what permits and approvals are necessary for this project.

Pursuant to Title 24 VSA sections 4471 and 4472, an interested person who has participated in the review of this application may appeal this decision to the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court by filing a Notice of Appeal directly to the court, 23 Cherry Street, Suite 303, Burlington Vermont 05401 by certified mail within 30 days of the date this decision is issued. A copy of the notice must also be sent to the Zoning Administrator or the Municipal Clerk who is required to provide a list of interested persons to the appellant within 5 days of the notice. The appellant is required to send a copy of the Notice via certified mail to each interested person.

Newfane Development Review Board
David Cotton, Chairman
P.O. Box 296
Newfane, VT 05345
(802) 365 7772
Fax (802) 365 7692