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Warren DRB keeps options open for additional roads to Sugarbush area


By Erin Post

Although the Warren Development Review Board (DRB) backed down on requiring a public road through a proposed subdivision off the Sugarbush Access Road, they don't want to close off any possibilities just yet.

To that end, the board plans to require the easement for the subdivision's development road to extend from the Sugarbush Access Road to the property boundary, if they issue a permit for the nine-lot subdivision proposed by LBO LLC. The property is situated across from the Paradise Deli, just before the Sugar Tree Inn.

Such a stipulation keeps the option open for a public right of way to Sugarbush Village if future growth necessitates it, said Warren DRB chair Peter Monte at a recent meeting.

The decision ends a heated debate regarding whether requiring a public road through the proposed nine-lot subdivision would amount to a "taking" by eminent domain on the part of the town.

At a December 20 hearing, LBO LLC representative Mike Krongel argued that it would, and that the town would therefore be required to compensate the landowner as required by law.

Legal counsel the town sought following the December 20 meeting agreed with that assessment, Monte said January 31, leading the town to drop its request.

Nevertheless, he said, the town still has to adhere to the town's land use regulations, which ask the board to consider the needs of any future road network when reviewing subdivision plans.  

"[The ordinance] requires us to consider connectivity," he said, adding that without any overarching review, Warren is in danger of becoming a "community of cul-de-sacs."

An easement that extends the entire way from the Sugarbush Access Road to the property line would at least keep such a right of way a possibility, Monte said, while allowing developers to build the road as laid out in their proposal.

The stipulation will require some reworking of building envelopes for a few lots, Krongel said, to take into account slivers of land that fall within the easement.

Plans as proposed by LBO LLC call for the development road to dead-end in a cul-de-sac short of the boundary with the Sugarbush land.

The potential exists for the yet-to-be-built road to extend beyond the subdivision, connecting to the densely populated area just north of Lincoln Peak.

Although DRB members at the January 31 meeting agreed that the likelihood that such a road would be located through the proposed subdivision is minimal, they don't want to shut out any options just yet since the conversation about future road development is only getting started.

Warren officials have argued that with continued growth, an alternate route into and out of the Lincoln Peak base area may become necessary. Emergency access to the condominiums is also a concern, with just one road now serving the network of twisting lanes filled with residential buildings.

Monte said the town plans to hire an engineer to determine what the "long-range road infrastructure" needs in the area may be. Sugarbush has also recently completed a traffic assessment as part of the Clay Brook building project.

The DRB also requires the final plan for the property to show an easement parallel to the Sugarbush Access Road, keeping the option open for construction of a public path at some point in the future.

Krongel said he would not consider a trail through the proposed subdivision, calling the project a "private residential development," where residents likely would not appreciate "people wandering through their backyards."

"That's not the type of development that I envision," he said. "This is something that I am very strongly against."

He also pointed out that such a trail would be routed through steep terrain and would not connect to any existing trail network.

LBO LLC is a corporation set up by Leslie B. Otten, former owner of Sugarbush Resort.

The DRB plans to hold a hearing for final plan review March 7.


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