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Select board may throw up Class IV section of Old Center Fayston Road

01/25/2007

By Lisa Loomis

Concerned about the impacts of a Fayston subdivision on a Waitsfield neighborhood, the Waitsfield Select Board is considering throwing up a small section of Class IV road that leads to Fayston and a proposed seven-lot subdivision.

On January 22, the Waitsfield Select Board again took up the matter of Robin and Jenny Morris' proposed seven-lot subdivision (in Fayston) and its impact on the Old County Road neighborhood through which it will be accessed. The board sent a letter to the Fayston Planning Commission outlining its concerns with the project, following this week's meeting.

Those concerns have to do with protecting the existing character of the neighborhood as well as concerns about the ability of the Class IV and Class III sections of the Old County Road to support the additional traffic. The board is also concerned that the steep grades and narrow width of the development road will hamper the ability of fire and ambulance services to respond.  And board members note that Waitsfield's road commissioner, Charlie Goodman, and road foreman Stuart Grandfield identified 440 feet of Class IV road where the width of the road is 18 feet at the widest and 13 feet at the narrowest point.

"I think we need to make our concerns known," board chair Elwin Neill Jr. said this week, adding that he was under the impression that there was another seven-lot subdivision already approved for land located off the Old Center Fayston Road.

"That would be seven more lots going in up there and mean traffic from 14 houses coming through that neighborhood," he said.

Town administrator Valerie Capels explained to the board the advice she received from the town attorney's office.

"In talking to Tim Eustace at Stitzel's office, I asked the question of what authority Waitsfield has to require a developer of a project in Fayston to make improvements to our road. His opinion is that we have no authority to require a developer to make improvements to the Waitsfield road because it is a Class III road which the town receives state funding for maintaining," Capels said.

"Because Waitsfield is party to the Fayston Planning Commission's review, the town can communicate to Fayston its concerns and conceivably Fayston would factor those in to its decision making," she continued.

"That's our section of Class IV road though. We can discontinue maintenance of that road, or we could throw it up," Neill said.

"I think you'd have a problem throwing it up," said board member Paul Hartshorn.

"I don't think so," Neill responded.

To throw it up, the town would have to show that doing so was in the public interest, Capels said.

Neill said he felt it could be argued that it was in the public interest to throw up the road because the town has concerns about public safety, emergency vehicle access, the existing neighborhood, runoff and other issues.

"If you add another, second, seven-lot subdivision to this, it just exacerbates the problem," he said.

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