August 6, 2014, PC Meeting Minutes – Draft

August 11, 2014


Planning Commission with Zoning Board of Adjustment

August 6, 2014 Meeting Minutes – Draft


Planning Commission Members Present: George (Terry) Delano, Doug Patterson, Sandra O’Flaherty, Sandy Gregg and David Roy

Planning Commission Members Absent: None

Zoning Board of Adjustment members present: Gwen Hobbs, Paula Delano, Steven Nedde, Courtland Perry, George Rice and Alayne Rabow after 7:38PM

Zoning Board of Adjustment members recused: Timothy Maxham and Jim Baker

Staff Present: Mitchel Cypes


Others present from sign in sheet: Tim Cota, Kelly Cota, Jay Buermann, Jeff Sikora (after 7:50PM), Gerard Werle, David Smail, Janine Bellinghiri, Teresa Poquette, Tim Maxham and Anne Zolotas


7:07PM: Call to order of the meeting by Gwen Hobbs. There were no requests for additions to or deletions from the Agenda.


7:09PM: FR015-15-01B, Cota Family Trust, Planned Unit Development for 9 Conditional Uses on one property and Site Plan Review for Proposed 9-Unit Planned Unit Development on a 9.98 acre property. Proposed Uses of Propane Distribution Center, Propane Professional Offices, Wood Pellet Storage, Empty LP Tank Storage, Firewood Processing Facility, Mulch & Salt & Sand Storage, Professional Office, and 2 Restaurants. Paula Delano read the hearing notice. The Applicants and several people in the Public were sworn in.


Jay Buermann provided updated plans and a proposed agenda. He and Tim and Kelly Cota then testified the following:

  • They anticipate 3 hearings, the first to provide the data, the second to be a site visit and a third follow-up meeting. The agenda on the first page of the supplemental package, which was provided at the start of the hearing, was shown and reviewed.
  • Jay Buermann explained that he would perform the engineering and permitting and that Jeff Sikora would design the landscaping and lighting layouts.
  • The location of the project was shown on the plans referencing known existing nearby properties.
  • The property was part of a recent subdivision, which separated the existing property in to 3 lots, which are a little less than 10 acres. The Cota family was only interested in the central lot or lot 2. Lot 1 is where the septic system will be located. Lot 3 is reserved for agriculture. Act 250 approval is required since involved land is greater than 10 acres.
  • The Cota family is planning on purchasing all 3 lots and to keep the properties as 3 lots.
  • The reason for this $1.5 million project is that more space than is available at 35 Ferry Road is needed for Cota’s business to grow and operate.       They stated that they would be able to offer better pricing and service to the community.
  • The project will proceed as financing and opportunity allows.       They would like to move the propane and firewood businesses by this fall. To do so they would need to place the pillars and pumps right away.
  • Propane storage at 35 Ferry Road property is limited to 1,000 gallons.       They are proposing to have 30,000 gallons with this project at 15 Ferry Road.
  • Their wood storage is limited to 2 trailers in an area which is 75 feet deep by 30 feet wide.
  • If approved they plan to abandon the propane and firewood retail uses at 35 Ferry Road.
  • The updated plans were reviewed. Jay Buermann testified that the major change to the plans is that they were required to move one building away from a meadow wet area and the dry detention pond. Added to the plans is a survey which shows all 3 approved lots. He stated that Jeff Sikora was going to provide a landscape plan.
    • The survey shows the 3 lots with the wastewater system on lot 1 and the rest of the proposed development on lot 2.
    • Sheet 1 of 11 is an overall plan and has text that describes how the project conforms to the planning and zoning specifications.
    • Sheet 2 of 11 shows the grading to allow an understanding of how the project will look in the end and the stormwater system.
    • Sheet 3 of 11 includes soils and wetland information needed for State permitting.
    • Sheet 4 of 11 shows all the proposed utilities and other items to be placed underground.
    • Sheet 5 of 11 shows the already State approved wastewater system with isolation zones.
    • Sheets 6 to 11 of 11 have supporting details for proposed development shown on the first 5 plans.
    • An agricultural mitigation plan, required for ACT 250, is provided.       There is a cross-hatch area that shows land that is to be retained for agricultural use. Most of this land is located on lot 3.
  • The supplemental package provided at the hearing was discussed, noting the agenda on the first page was already shown.
    • The second page shows an aerial map of the property with property lines.       The adjacent properties were shown and features described.
    • The third page provides a Planned Unit Development Statement and their proposed construction timing.
    • The fourth page is a list of permits which have either been received, under review, confirmed as being not required or in the process of being submitted. An explanation of new State permitting requirements, which now require several steps, was discussed.
    • In two of the packets are copies of permits and letters received.
  • In response to the Board’s requests, Buermann explained that approval from the State is required and that the propane system is required to meet the standards of NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 58, for LP gas and NFPA 70, for electrical code. An email letter from Chris Herrick, Chief of Vermont’s-HAZMAT Response Team was read. In the letter Chris Herrick describes the review standards, the State of Vermont HAZMAT team, the work they perform and the safety of the propane industry.
  • The Boards asked about security on the property, Buermann explained they are proposing an 8-foot high fence, in conformance with NFPA 58 regulations.       In response to a Board question, Buermann noted that the current Zoning Bylaws do not conflict with the proposed safety fence.
  • In response to a Board question Buermann stated, per the Herrick email, that the code does not require an evacuation plan.


7:42PM: A motion to accept the email letter from Chris Herrick as evidence as exhibit #1 was made by Doug Patterson, seconded by Sandra O’Flaherty and approved unanimously.


A letter from James and Jeri Baker was read, which raises concerns regarding the tank size, effect on greater area, LP gas leakage, the ability of the fire department to react to an emergency, the response time of the State HAZMAT team, concerns on conformance to an approval based upon the use and hours of operation on existing site, potential salt runoff into the lake and protection for the wet areas on the property.


7:46PM: A motion to accept the letter from James and Jeri Baker as evidence as exhibit #2 was made by Steve Nedde, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.


7:49PM: A motion to accept new plans from Buermann and Sikora as evidence totaling 14 sheets as exhibit #3 was made by Steve Nedde, seconded by Terry Delano and approved unanimously.


7:50PM: Jeff Sikora arrived and was sworn in.


Jay Buermann continued and testified the following:

  • The infrastructure, roads and utilities would be built first, then the wood processing and propane businesses would be relocated.
  • The property could be subdivided into 9 one acre lots.
  • The development could be spread out over 20 acres: instead, they are proposing to cluster the development and maintain an agricultural field and an open field.
  • From the road, only the proposed commercial uses, and not the proposed industrial uses, would be visible.
  • The only requested PUD variance is to have multiple principal structures on one lot.
  • The proposed parking and the proposed commercial and industrial uses are clustered.
  • In response to the Board’s clarification of use, Buermann testified that the propane and firewood processing uses would require 2-acres of land each.
  • In response to the Board’s comment that if 4 acres of the property is needed for two uses and the remaining 7 are to fit in the remaining 5+ acres and concern that not enough open space is being provided on this lot, Buermann noted that the front 250 feet of the lot was not being developed.
  • In response to the Board question as to why the restaurants were not proposed to be placed closer to the street and have the parking behind it, Buermann stated that development on the front of the property was limited because it was a wetland and the driveway was approved because it was the only way in to the rest of the property.
  • The 2 proposed restaurants are to be drive-through restaurants with only 6 seats n each.
  • The other building is to be used as a Professional Services or Commercial Retail use for sale of dry goods.
  • In response to the concern that building #6 is being used as part of the security fence around the propane area and that part of the building may be able to egress in to the secured area, the Applicants agreed to move the fence away from the building.
  • The width of the main drive accessing the property is proposed to have a travel portion that is 30 feet wide and made of gravel, which would be big enough for use by tractor trailers.
  • The proposed bunker to store salt for sale will have 2 bays for trucks and will be made of cement block, and there will be a roof over salt area.
  • Trailers, which are to be permanent fixtures, are proposed to be placed behind a building to store propane tanks and containers.
  • The redesign provides a hammerhead turnaround before the proposed security gate.
  • The Applicants testified that the Fire Chief said that they could, if needed, get through a fence as proposed quickly and that they plan to provide a key to the fence to the fire department.
  • Conformance to the side and rear yard setback requirements for both the buildings and the parking lots was demonstrated on plans.
  • The proposed parking lots are to be gravel and will not be striped.
  • The proposed hours of operation, as shown on sheet 1 at the top left, are7AM-7PM daily for most of the proposed uses except the restaurants, which are proposed to have hours of 4AM to 11PM. The existing hours for the propane and firewood businesses are currently 7AM-7PM on weekdays and 8AM-5PM on weekends. The Applicant agreed to keep the same hours of operation for the new business.
  • The turning loop by the wood processing area will allow trucks to access the rear areas of the property without needing to back up.
  • Tim Cota stated that currently his business owns 2 pump trucks, 1 BBQ side loading truck and 2 crane trucks. He plans to add one additional pump truck in the near future.       The proposed propane distribution center will have truck parking and offices inside. Some of the trucks will be parked by the firewood area in the back of the property.
  • Some circles on the plans in front of distribution center were clarified as being curb water stops or water valves and not utility poles.
  • The traffic pattern customers would use to get their propane tanks refilled was described.
  • The area in front of building #5 will be gravel instead of grass.
  • The location of the proposed well was shown and discussed.
  • The proposed restaurant will serve food and will not be bars.
  • The summary sheet in the supplement listed whether non-town permits are required, have had applications submitted and / or received. These include the following:
    • A State stormwater permit for 2.31 acres of impervious area has been issued. The stormwater treatment design required conformance to water quality, recharge and 10-year storm standards.
    • A State Construction General Permit or CGP for erosion control because more than 1 acre, for this project 5.83 acres, has been disturbed.       The plans already address what is needed. The Applicants will apply for a CGP 1 month prior construction.
    • The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has been provided copies of the plans, which they have stated looked good.
    • They do not need a permit to mitigate air pollution.
    • The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation stated that no archaeological sites are being disturbed by this project.
    • The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife stated that there were no habitats on this property which needed to be protected.
    • The US Army Corps of Engineers stated that they have jurisdiction due to a class II wetland which is ecologically connected to the lake. An Army Corps permit will be required.
    • The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Wetlands Division stated that there are no significant wetlands on the property.
    • The State Agency of Transportation provided a verbal OK for the new access to VT Route 314. The Applicants have provided an updated plan and are still waiting on a decision, but they believe there should be no concerns.
    • Tim Maxham requested and was provided with confirmation that a farm access to lot 3 was provided.
    • The way in which a State water supply permit is issued has changed.       A permit is required to first drill a well. Then after the yield and quality of the water is provided, a permit to construct may be obtained. Engineer certification is needed for operating a system as a Public water supply for non-resident users. The Applicants will need to be responsible for maintenance of the permit.
    • A Vermont wastewater permit cannot be issued until the water supply system is operational.
    • An ACT 250 permit for the placement of buildings can be issued for construction, but not for the full project until after other permits are obtained.
    • The property is not in the Fire District #4 area, so water can only be supplied by wells. The water and septic need is similar to the needs of two single family residences. Storage provided is only that which is required for use. The well location shown on the plans was determined by the engineer. Storage tanks and treatments systems for sulfur, hardness and methane can be placed in a small area inside one of the buildings.
    • The size of the buildings are not big enough to require a sprinkler system.
    • An ACT 250 application is being drafted.
    • The Grand Isle Sheriff’s Department, South Hero Rescue and Vermont Electric sent electronic letters stating that they can provide service to this proposed development.
    • Fairpoint did not provide a response.
  • The utility pole where access is to be provided is shown on the plans.       All utilities are proposed to be underground from that point. Though a proposed layout for the electrical system is shown on the plans and has been provided to Vermont Election, Vermont Electric will design its own layout, which may be different than the one shown on the plans.
  • Application to local regulations included a statement conforming to Section 612, conformance to the conditional use requirements of Section 303, article 5, the capacity of the Town facilities, character of the area and conformance to the Town Plan was discussed.
  • The proposed development will increase traffic by 809 vehicles per day.       The Average Annual Daily Traffic in 2012 on VT Route 314 was 4,500 vehicles per day.
  • Regarding renewable resources, wood was stated to be renewable, and is purchased in Newport or Johnson. Propane and wood chips are inexpensive energy sources.
  • Jeff Sikora presented a landscape plan which included plantings to be placed to shield buildings from view from VT Route 314 and lighting locations on buildings, public parking areas and around propane tanks for security. He testified that all proposed lighting is to be down casted and focused.       Proposed trees will be able to grow to 25 feet in height. Some evergreens near the parking areas are proposed. There will be proposed signage near VT Route 314 with down casting lights.
  • Jay Buermann stated that the proposed signage will include one sign by VT Route 314 and a sign for each business, which would have its own logo.
  • In response to Board inquiries regarding the removal of trees in northeast portion of lot, The Applicants stated that they wished to improve the visibility for restaurants & businesses and that they were not allowed to remove the tree stumps due to USACOE requirement. The Boards asked if the trees could be tapered or thinned out rather than be completely removed.
  • The Applicants testified that in conversations with the Listers they were told that currently the annual taxes on the property is $3,400, and that after this development the annual taxes will increase to $25,000 to $33,000 per year.
  • The Boards noted that the propane tanks would be a target for vandals.       They Applicants stated that they are proposing an 8-foot high security fence, in conformance with NFPA-58 standards. The use of barb or razor wire was discussed and would require a variance.


Public Comment:

  • Gerard Werle expressed concern regarding a lack of enforcement of landscaping in other areas. He considers Mr. Cota’s existing store located at 35 Ferry Road an eye sore, and questioned if the Town would enforce the requirements of an approval.       He suggested that using evergreens in the landscaping would be better. He stated that the Applicant can develop as he wants, but should do so in a way to make the Town proud.
  • David Smail of 19 Ferry Road, an abutting landowner, wanted a clarification as to the protections that would be provided for lots 1 and 3 to remain agricultural. The State restrictions were described. Uses that do not affect the soil such as ball fields or solar panels are allowed.       The land set aside for wood storage is an allowable use.
  • Mr. Smail also asked who owns the right of way easement, which was described.
  • Janine Bellinghiri expressed concerns regarding potential propane spillage. The 1994 propane spill at the Grand Isle fishery was discussed. Tim Cota explained that new regulations and practices limits the possibility of such a leak occurring.
  • Regarding detectors, only buildings that are not open require detectors.
  • When asked how it would affect Route 2, Anne Zolatas stated that if such an event occurred, U.S. Route 2 would be closed.
  • The Applicants explained that the entire area within the fence would be nonsmoking for safety.


Continuance scheduling was discussed.


9:25PM: A motion to schedule a site visit for August 27 at 6:00PM was made by Alayne Rabow, seconded by Court Perry and approved unanimously.


9:26PM: A motion to recess the hearing to 7:00PM on August 27 was made by Doug Patterson, seconded by George Rice and approved unanimously.


9:28PM: Administrative Officer’s Report included a review of the upcoming hearing schedule and a notice that the Town reports for the Boards are due in November, but will be provided at one of the next meetings.


9:30PM: The Boards discussed how to procedurally continue the Vermont Fish & Wildlife hearing and the limits of their jurisdiction. A plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers showing the Apple Island Resort docks was shown. It was noted that Residents can within a limited distance designate a swimming area without boating. Regarding signs the Applicants should provide proposed signs for the Boards to review. The Boards questioned whether to address the Park and Ride concern.


The Boards separated. Mail addressed to the Planning Commission for a pond in an area that would require a boundary adjustment was distributed and discussed.


9:51PM: A motion was made to approve the Minutes for July 30, 2014 by David Roy, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously. The Commission stated that no minutes were needed for the site visit.


9:58PM: Progress involving updating the Town Plan was discussed. It was agreed that the document could be better organized. The Commission after a discussion decided to work on updating the Town Plan without a major reorganization and in time reorganize the Town Plan, rather than doing a full update and reorganization at the same time. This will allow the Town to apply for Municipal Grants. The Commission also discussed how to have the Selectboard be more involved and having the school board update the school section in the Town Plan.


10:12PM: A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Sandy Gregg, seconded by Sandra O’Flaherty and approved unanimously.


Respectfully submitted by Mitchel Cypes, Administrative Officer.




For Planning Commission

Comments are closed.