October 1, 2014, PC Meeting Minutes – Draft

October 6, 2014


Planning Commission with Zoning Board of Adjustment

October 1, 2014 Meeting Minutes

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: Timothy Maxham, Paula Delano, George Rice, Jim Baker, Alayne Rabow and Steven Nedde (After 9:20)

Zoning Board of Adjustment member absent: Courtland Perry, Gwen Hobbs

Staff Present: Mitchel Cypes

Others present from sign in sheet: Denis Gravelin, Kate Gravelin, Bev Austin, Connie Haunt, Russ Hemingway, Gretchen Patterson, Beatrice Crawford, Don Crawford, Lena Nielsen, Jeanne Lavigne, Bob Marks, Mike Nepywoda, Dick Peterman, Jamie Montani, Peter Velasquez, Steve Nedde, Mike Gammal, David Crawford, Alan Pidgen and Maureen Pidgen

7:09PM: Call to order by Tim Maxham. Agendas read.

7:11PM Additions or Deletions to the Agenda: The Planning Commission decided to switch the order of agenda items 6 & 7. Introductions of the present board members and hearing rules were provided.

7:13PM: RT456-15-23B, Keeler Bay Associates, Conditional Use and Site Plan Review to Increase Dockage and Slip Count from 44 Slips to 60 Slips. Tim Maxham read the hearing notice.

Applicants Michael Gammal and Dave Crawford of Keeler Bay Associates and members of the Public were sworn in by George Rice. The Applicants testified that after buying Montani’s campground they came to the Town in 2012 for approvals to improve the grounds, and sewer, water and power systems of the campground. After improving the land, they wanted to improve the marina. They received guidance and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade their marina to 60 slips. They then applied for the 60 slip marina with the Town. In 2013 they received approval from the Town for 44 slips and were told to wait 2 years to evaluate the impact of the upgrades before returning to the Town to request the additional 16 slips, which they are requesting in this application.

The Applicants testified the following:

  • They have removed the old docks, which had been in bad condition They stated that they kept 3 of the better existing old docks and did not remove some of the platforms and connections, many of which were built into the ground, and concrete patios of some of the other old docks because the stairs were removable and removing many of these would create erosion. Both Boards went on to explain to the Applicants that these are lake access structures, which with the exception of the 3 docks to the boat slips and one additional access, were required to be removed by the past Town approvals.
  • They have not upgraded the entrance area because the upgrades were not required by V-Trans until the marina was upgraded to 60 slips.  They stated that on July 4th 2014, they were operated at full capacity and accommodated some big RVs without any major traffic issues due at least in part to the traffic being spread out though the day.
  • They testified that only 10 of 44 slips were used by campers. The rest were used by people who rented the slips monthly. It was noted that the condition of the prior Town permit allowed weekly rentals.  They testified that at times all 44 slips were used and the campers often used non-motorized lake vehicles like canoes and kayaks.
  • The Applicants stated that they could park 200 vehicles on the property, the plans show 3 delineated grass areas, which are roped off and that can accommodate 28, 29 and 3 parking spaces totaling 60 parking spaces. They also have 12 gravel parking spaces behind the barn, parking for two vehicles at each of the 28 campsites and 6 additional parking spaces against a hedgerow. The Boards and the Applicants calculated 60+12+28+28+6 = 134 parking spaces. The Applicants agreed to modify their application to show 134 parking spaces.  They testified that they did not use the 28 parking space overflow on July 4th, their busiest day, the parking areas are setback 15 feet from the property line, and did not park outside vehicles in the northern area near the Velasquez property, but Dave Crawford stated he parked his trailer in this area.
  • The Applicants testified that the existing septic system for the campground includes a gravity pipe system discharging to a 4000 gallon septic tank, which is then pumped to existing leach-fields located by the former bath house and on south side of entrance road to west of campsites.  Also there is no parking on the leach-fields, and they have the ability to connect the existing septic tank to a State approved leach-field located on the northwest portion of the property as shown on the plan. The State wastewater approval will require the elimination of water and sewer use for 4 campsites with the increase of boat slip to 60. They are allowed to maintain power to these 4 campsites in order to accommodate tents. The existing 3-bedroom residence has its own septic system. The residence and campground receives water from South Hero Fire District #4.
  • The Applicants testified that fuel and septic pump out service is not provided and not proposed to be provided at the boat slips, they do not store boat trailers and usually have less than 10 on the property, they do not believe that boat traffic has increased nor will increase due to their activities, and they do not harvest or control weeds, which would require a State permit.
  • The Applicants testified that they planted the cedar hedge along the driveway at the entrance of the campground.
  • The Applicants explained that the reason why the future proposed pavilion and cottage are on the plans is that they were encouraged to show their master plan by the former Zoning Administrator. The Boards explained that the cottage is too close to the lake and may not meet the criteria for the shoreland protection act. Permitting through ANR and the Town would be required to build these structures.
  • The Applicants explained that after they purchased the property they negotiated an easement with Frank Montani to allow his existing garage to remain on their property and on an easement with Jamie Montani to maintain his septic system, which is also partially on their property.
  • The Applicants testified that they placed a hedge for Tim Montani, could not agree as to where to place a barrier with Jamie Montani, and outside of the V-Trans work has fulfilled all the conditions of the previous permit approval.

Public Comment:

  • Jamie Montani stated his belief that the Applicants have not fulfilled the conditions of the permit and demanded that the Applicant be required to place a vegetative barrier 25 feet beyond his easement, which he defines as his additional isolation easement. The Applicants dispute the placement of the vegetative barrier in that location. The Applicants and the Boards agreed this was a legal issue and not a permitting issue. Jamie Montani stated that he has had to deal with excessive noise, campfires bringing smoke to his house and vehicles parking near his property and not in the designated parking locations approved by the prior decisions.
  • Peter Velasquez questioned the accuracy of the stated pre-existing number of slips from the last hearing, which the property was utilized since as the Applicants claim, and that the character of the area will be affected by this increase. In response the Applicants stated that at times they were in full use and had to turn people away, and that the US Army Corps of Engineers allowed the docks to be extended to 175 feet, which moves the existing slips 30 feet further from shore to get the USACOE recommended water depth on the slips nearest to land. The applicants also clarified that they can accommodate 28 foot boats on the slips at the end of the docks and 25 foot boats at the other slips.
  • Alan Pidgin requested and was provided a clarification on the permitted access and egress from the property.
  • Denis Gravelin also questioned the number of slips that the campground had previously and stated his concern about too much boat traffic in Keeler Bay.
  • Jeanne Lavigne raised concern that the majority of the slips were being rented out to non-campers and stated that there has been a big increase in noise.
  • Connie Haunt, who stated she lives on Heron Ridge Road disputed the fullness of use claims by the Applicants and raised concerns regarding erosion caused by boaters not following wake rules and the safety of people paddling canoes and kayaks near the boats in the bay.
  • Dick Peterman stated that he has observed a noticeable increase in boat traffic in Keeler Bay and that half the boats are from the campground.  He talked about how the waters in Keeler bay used to be calm and now they are rough with boats creating large wakes.
  • Lena Nielson, who uses the campground and loves the beauty of Vermont, stated that there are wake signs, that many boats are not in the water, that a lot of campers use kayaks and canoes and that the additional slip will not have a negative effect. They discussed how the owners are respectful to the property and campers and that the biggest traffic concern was on Route 2 and not the campground. She said she would like to see the lake access structures remain for safety concerns.
  • Russell Hemingway, who lives on Heron Ridge Road, stated her concern about weeds in the water. The Board told her that a lot of the weeds that exist today is from sediment from erosion caused by hurricane Irene.
  • Bev Austin stated she has lived her life by the bay and expressed her concerns regarding traffic, boat traffic and disagreed stating the weeds were caused by the increase in the number of boats on the Lake.
  • Maureen Pidgen stated her belief that the warning for the hearing was misleading, since it discussed the increase in slips, which the Boards do not control.

The Boards explained that the Town does not have jurisdiction of land below elevation 95.5, which means the Boards are not reviewing the slip layouts. The US Army Corps of Engineers and the State control boat speeds and allowable wakes. The Boards explained that they review the use on land, which supports the marina, such as parking and traffic.

9:18PM: A motion by the Planning Commission to accept the application as complete with amending the number of parking spaces provided to 134 was made by Sandy Gregg, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.

9:19PM: A motion to close the hearing for deliberative session was made by Jim Baker, seconded by David Roy and approved unanimously.

9:20PM: Public Input: Mike Nepywoda of Apple Island Resort provided a presentation that described the mine reclamation work, how the reclamation improved the site and how Reel Avenue is now defined, where previously it was not. He explained that the campground has been in existence since the 1930’s, that they purchased the property in 2005 and are looking to upgrade the property and relocate and/or define the projects 300 sites. He stated that currently 246 of the approved 300 campsites are delineated and that the defining of Reel Avenue reduces the number of defined sites by 6. The Planning Commission concurred that a site plan amendment is not required for the redefining of Reel Avenue as shown, and a Site Plan amendment will be required for the defining and relocating of camp sites to the reclaimed area.

9:46PM: Administrative Officer’s Report included a review of the October 8, 2014 agendas, guidance for a certificate of occupancy request for a septic system placed 18 years ago, and notice of a boundary adjustment for MR007 & SS294 and Milton regulation change. Staff also requested contact information should he not be able to make a meeting or would be late.

9:58PM: A motion was made to approve the Minutes for September 17, 2014 by Sandra O’Flaherty, seconded by Doug Patterson and approved unanimously.

10:00PM: A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by George Rice, seconded by Sandy Gregg and approved unanimously.

Respectfully submitted by Mitchel Cypes, Administrative Officer.


For Planning Commission

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