Minutes of Development Review Board (DRB) site visit and hearing held December 8, 2021

December 13, 2021

Appeal of denied zoning permit; application 21-039 for Tiny House Village on The Original Newfane Flea Market property at 788 Vermont route 30

Site Visit 3:00 pm
Applicants: Jesse Holden, E.W. (“Bill”) Morse, Jr
Development Review Board (DRB): Hendrik van Loon, Lynn Forrest, David Lucido, Walter Dadik
Newfane Planning Commission: Ken Estey

Mr. van Loon chaired the visit. He explained the visit was an opportunity to learn how the proposed use might fit the property and how it might affect neighborhood. He said testimony and gathering of evidence would take place at the hearing that evening – not during the site visit.

Mr. Morse and Mr. Holden led a tour of the area that would be dedicated to the proposed tiny house Village and gave an overview of the layout. They pointed out the eight proposed homesites and a recreation area as well as proposed connections to route 30 and Radway Road. They said landscaping would maintain the current open atmosphere of the property.

Public Hearing 6:00 pm – 7:10 pm
Applicants: Jesse Holden, E.W. (“Bill”) Morse, Jr
Development Review Board (DRB): David Cotton Chairman, Hendrik van Loon, Lynn Forrest, David Lucido, Walter Dadik, Erica Walch alternate
Newfane Zoning Administrator: Merle Tessier
Newfane Planning Commission Chairman: Ken Estey
Newfane Zoning Administrator: Merle Tessier
Abutters: Randall Antinarelli, Erika Goldstein
Brattleboro Reformer: Bob Audette

Mr. Cotton opened the hearing at 6:00 pm and swore-in all those who expected to give testimony. He then asked Mr. Morse to describe the proposed project.

Mr. Morse said the project was conceived as a way to provide much-needed affordable housing in Newfane while producing a reasonable income for the site’s owners – himself and Mr. Holden.

The plan is to rent/lease tiny house sites with access to a septic system, utilities and parking to tenants who will supply their own tiny houses. The goal is a rental/lease term of a least one year. Eight house sites are proposed; but only four will be leased initially. There will be a community recreation area and maintenance will be provided by Mr. Morse and Mr. Holden. The existing Original Newfane Flea Market will share the property and continue to operate.

Mr. Cotton asked each DRB member for comments.

David Lucido noted there is no description or specified size to define tiny houses in the Zoning Bylaw. There was general agree there is a need for one.

Erica Walch asked if there are other tiny house villages. Mr. Morse said he knew of at least one. He believes the tiny house manufacturer in Townshend is supplying some of its houses. This led to a discussion of Kenolie Village, a seasonal mobile home recreation area in Newfane.

Mr. van Loon asked if the project requires a subdivision permit and Mr. Tessier said it does not. Mr. van Loon also asked if the driveways were planned for two-way traffic and Mr. Morse replied they are. There was discussion about arranging he house plots in a less “regimented” fashion; but no changes were made.

Ms. Forrest endorsed the concept of concentrating the plots in a cluster in order to maximize the amount of open space. She also said she is a member of Newfane’s Planning Commission and they plan to have tiny house specifications completed by town meeting day.

Mr. Dadik questioned whether DRB has authority to act on an application for a Tiny House Village since the Zoning Bylaw does not list it as either a permitted or conditional use. Mr. van Loon said DRB does have authority to act regarding residences and this application involves residences.

Mr. Dadik also mentioned difficulties interpreting internal traffic flow on the plot plan submitted with the DRB application; He later expressed concerns about compliance with the Zoning Bylaw’s mixed use specifications – in particular the requirement that the entire cumulative development not cover more than 65 percent of the lot area. Mr. Morse said he strongly doubts there is a problem. Mr. Dadik said there should, nonetheless, be an accurate calculation of the area affected by the multiple uses compared to what the bylaw allows .

Mr. Cotton asked for comments from two of the property’s abutters who were in attendance

Mr. Antinarelli had five concerns:

  1. Effect on property values
    Mr. Morse believes a well managed community will not have a negative effect
  2. Zoning impact
    This is basically a stand alone project not expected to lead to zoning changes in the area
  3. Possibility of expansion beyond the eight units applied for the zoning Bylaw limits the parcel to eight units
  4. Noise levels
    Mr. Morse believes this will be a low key residential community; also, there will be rules to regulate noise
  5. Trash problems
    Mr. Morse said there will be community rules plus attention from Mister Holden and himself to insure proper waste management.

Ms. Goldstein had four questions:

  1. How will occupancy levels be regulated?
    Mr. Morse said there are no plans to specify them at this time
  2. Is there a capital reserve for maintenance?
    Mr. Morse said there is no specific reserve; but, he and Mr. Holden are committed to good practices
  3. Has there been any planning for septic systems and other utilities
    Mr. Morse said he has contacted consultants for water supply and a septic system. Initial investigations are encouraging and state regulations will be followed.
  4. Will there be rules limiting or prohibiting children?
    Mr. Morse said emphatically there will be none.

Mr. Cotton asked if there were other comments and there were none. Mr. van Lon made a motion that:

The Development Review Board recess this hearing and enter deliberative session

The motion was seconded by Ms. Forrest and unanimously passed at 7:10 pm

Development Review Board
Newfane Vermont
Walter Dadik, Secretary