Newfane DRB Hearing Minutes – May 27, 2015


Town of Newfane

P.O. Box 296

Newfane, VT 05345

Site Visit and Hearing:  May 27, 2015 for Appeal 15-2010

Decision:  June 2, 2015

Appellant: Historical Society of Windham County (HSWC), P.O. Box 246, Newfane, VT 05345

Tax Map Lot #: 00B122 on 12 Cemetery Hill Road

DRB Members:  Colligan, Cotton, Nelson, Weisbrich, Wilson

Zoning Administrator (ZA): Tessier

Road Foreman & Selectboard at Site Visit:  Lawley

Abutters Present: None

Abutters Not Present:  Goldenhill, Mantel, Brooks, Emerson, Hawkins

Hearing Attendance: Robinson, Bacon

Background:  HSWC applied on April 21, 2015 for a zoning permit to allow reconstruction of the West River railroad station platform.  Zoning permit #15-2010 application was denied by the ZA for Section 322 for a site plan review and Section 212.6 for a variance.  A hearing on the appeal was scheduled. The warning was duly published, posted in the town and provided parties as set forth in statute (24VSA, SS4468).

Facts and Findings at Site Visit:  Site visit started at 6:30 pm.  Robinson and Bacon (for the HSWC) answered questions from the DRB (no public present) and toured the building.  Todd Lawley (Road Foreman) assures DRB that the 6′ wide wood platform on the east side of the building will not create a setback issue with road safety if it were built flush to the existing grade and platform’s proximity to the road will not create a setback issue for snow removal during winter since town runs a smaller truck on Cemetery Road.  Section 324 requires 15 feet of side setback and reconstructed platform will be only 5′ from edge of road and a variance is needed.   Other findings:  1.  there is no bathroom facilities on site and no plans to rent a port-a-potty.  Visitors to the seasonal building will be directed elsewhere to use bathrooms in nearby buildings; 2. site plan designated diagonal parking spaces on west side of building facing the brook.  DRB concerned that parked cars in this fashion will clearly block more than half of the existing road and create an obvious access and pedestrian safety issue.  It was established that the square footage of the building is 816 square feet.  Designated as a “general commercial” building under section 450 it would need a minimum of 4 spaces sized 9′ x 18′.   Win Clark has been asked to help create parking spots and safe access around the building and near the brook.  DRB reviewed the parking design under section 212.6 and asked to see other options.  HSWC suggested 3 parallel spots alongside the brook and to possibly create additional parking to the north side of the building.  There appears to be good space for at least 10 more cars and it’s clearly safer for all as the road is no longer partially blocked.  They are unsure of the exact type of materials to be used for the parking spots.  Currently the ground on the north side is slightly tilted and grass covered; 3.  HSWC believes the village district building should be designated as a cultural facility under section 322 as a permitted use.  A cultural facility can be a library, museum or similar public facility that displays, preserves and exhibits objects of community and cultural interest.

Facts and Findings at Hearing: The hearing was opened and two potential witnesses were sworn.  Appellant (Robinson & Bacon for the HSWC) provided an adequate site plan and explained their reasoning for a variance.  HSWC purchased property with hopes of restoring building and to operate as a cultural facility on a seasonal basis (Memorial Day to Columbus Day).  They referenced the site visit where Todd Lawley (Road Foreman) stated the reconstructed platform will not interfere with road safety, parking or plowing.  HSWC would modify their parking plan under section 212.6 to no longer use diagonal parking towards the brook and now use a safer plan of three parallel spots alongside the brook and additional parking spots (including one handicap spot nearest the building) on the north side of the building.  Win Clark will excavate the site for the platform and parking.  Building to be designated as general commercial under section 450. Additional lighting on the building will use similar gooseneck fixtures with modest downlighting only and HWSC to refer to the statewide CBES rules for new fixtures for commercial buildings.  Rick Wilson made a motion and Al Weisbrich seconded.  All approved.

Decision:  The DRB has concluded that the appeal 15-2010 was approved subject the following conditions:

  1. Off-Street parking plan under sections 450 as a general commercial building needs at least four designated parking spots with three parallel spots alongside brook and at least one                                 handicap parking spot on the north side of the building;
  2. Variance granted for reconstructed deck under section 324
  3. Permiited use granted building designated as a general commercial under section 322


Thomas Colligan, Chair

For the Board