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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Small Dog requests change of use

06/05/2008

By Lisa Loomis

Following an intense discussion with the Waitsfield Select Board, Small Dog Electronics has filed a zoning application with the town to suspend one condition of its permit.

Specifically, the Apple internet repair and sales company wants to be able to be open on Sunday, July 13, part of Vermont's sales-tax-free weekend July 12 and 13.

Currently, Small Dog's permits prohibit being open for retail sales on Sunday. Company president and founder Don Mayer, along with company representative Joyce Frederick, met with the Waitsfield Select Board on June 2 to ask the board if its members could/would provide any help with being able to open for the July 13 event.

GOOD JOBS

Mayer told the board that his company is an asset to Waitsfield, providing good jobs with good benefits and stressed that his company is a good corporate citizen for the town. He said that his margins are tight and that on previous sales-tax-free days, he has sold $500,000 in product, making the difference between a bad year and a good year.

Town Administrator Valerie Capels explained that the question of modifying Small Dog's permit has to go to the town development review board and said that state statute prevents an applicant from a applying for the same project or condition.

Small Dog received its original permits for retail sales in 2003 as an expansion of a pre-existing non-conforming use in the ag/residential district. In 2005 the company applied to amend its permits, asking for permission to extend retail hours during the week and to be open on Sundays. The 2005 request was denied.

SUPPORT REQUEST

At this week's select board hearing Mayer asked the board to provide some indication of support for his request and in so doing, demonstrate appreciation for the jobs and good corporate citizenship. Planning commissioner Brian Fleisher, also present at the meeting, spoke up in support of Small Dog, demanding that the board do something and stating, "I think the town owes Don (Mayer) a day of tax-free sales."

"The select board has zero authority to modify the conditions of their permit," Capels responded.

Select board member Paul Hartshorn suggested -- in jest -- that Mayer open for business that day and pay whatever zoning fine he incurs, to which Mayer said he did not intend to violate the conditions of his permit.

WEDDING BUSINESS

Board members also discussed how the 1824 House, also a non-conforming use in the ag/residential district, had received permission to expand its usage and board chair Charlie Hosford, participating by phone, said that that decision recognized the importance of the wedding business to The Valley.

"The 1824 House has weddings on Sunday sometimes and they are noisy," Hartshorn commented.

"But we're talking about one day, Sunday, July 13. This is a difference between this request and their former request," said select board member Kate Williams.

"Is there a way the select board can take the lead in trying to move things forward?" she asked.

PASSED A MOTION

The board ultimately passed a motion which read:

"Selectman Hartshorn moved, seconded by selectwoman Williams, that the select board support Small Dog Electronics' submission of an application to the development review board. The select board will discuss at a later time how it will move forward as far as support as a board."

This week's application requesting the one-day suspension of the condition banning retail sales on Sunday notes: "This application does not ask for a repeal of the stipulation, only a temporary suspension, much like the Town of Warren once did regarding the open container law on the Fourth of July."

The application filed by Small Dog with the town on June 3 will be heard by the DRB on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. That meeting is open to the public.

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