Created on Thursday, 21 June 2007 07:23
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2007 07:23
By Erin Post
Questions regarding the town's land use regulations led the Fayston Development Review Board (DRB) to delay discussion on a seven-lot development proposed for workforce housing.
In 2005, Fayston officials turned down a different application for the same 37-acre Randell Road property owned by Keith and Susan Kuegel. After lengthy deliberations, the board cited inadequate protection for wildlife habitat as one of seven reasons they denied the nine-lot subdivision a permit.
This time around, engineer Gunner McCain told the development review board June 19 that the application is for a planned residential development (PRD), a designation in the town's land use regulations that allows for smaller lots and conservation of open space.
The proposal calls for seven single family home lots -- five of which are less than one acre -- and one 29-acre common lot. The Kuegel's existing home is located on a six-acre lot. The property is located in a rural residential zoning district.
"The vision for the project is workforce housing," said McCain. "We're not looking at starter castles up here."
An eighth lot, located on the parcel now occupied by the Kuegel home, is indicated on the plan, McCain said, but is not part of the current application. He said the potential lot is shown to allow the applicants to return to the board for permits at a later date.
He said the Kuegels are "hoping to build their own retirement home" on the parcel. More detailed engineering work on a stream crossing and some steep slopes will be required, he said.
The 29-acre common lot was designed to "protect natural resources" on the property, McCain said. Development and subdivision would be prohibited. He said the new design was in part intended to address concerns regarding wildlife habitat protection expressed during the last subdivision hearing process.
But at the meeting June 19, members of the DRB debated in what zoning districts the town's land use regulations allow PRDs. Board member Chuck Martel cited a section of the ordinance regarding PRDs that states they "may be applied, at the request of the applicant, to any sized parcel to be subdivided within designated zoning districts, but they are encouraged for any subdivision creating more than five lots."
After reading through the ordinance, Martel said he couldn't find where the ordinance specifically "designates" what districts allow PRDs consisting of single family units, as it does for other uses such as mobile home parks and home industry.
In this case, McCain countered that "arguably you can't do a PRD anywhere in Fayston."
Town officials need to re-tool the language, he said, stating that it's a "poorly written ordinance that should reflect more clearly where PRDs are allowed."
"As a planning community we should be encouraging PRDs," he said, citing the conservation of resources and open space the developments allow.
According to the definition of PRDs in the ordinance, the developments are "encouraged" to increase density and reduce lot size as well as "concentrate development to avoid the fragmentation of productive forest, wildlife habitat and farmland."
Applicants for a PRD must protect open space in undeveloped portions of the parcel through deed restrictions, restrictive covenants or "other appropriate legal means."
The DRB continued the discussion phase of the review until July 17 to allow the board to consult the town's attorney regarding language in the ordinance. The project will also require Act 250 review.