September 22, 2006

By Lisa Loomis

Citing failure to comply with the zoning ordinance and the Town Plan, the Waitsfield Planning Commission denied a subdivision application from Bragg Hill Limited Partnership to build nine townhouses on 3.9 acres between the Mad River Green Shopping Center and Bragg Hill

Informal and formal hearings on the project were held since last fall. At issue for town planners during the public hearings were how and whether the project connects to existing and planned roads in the town and in the shopping center particularly.  Other issues arose when the developers requested permission to increase the height of the buildings beyond the town's 35-foot maximum height.

"I'm not surprised by the decision. The planning commission clearly had very specific things it wanted to see and its members should have shared them with us so that so much time and effort was not expended. If they have a vision for how they want things to look and how they want the road connectivity to be, they need to articulate it," said Ron Graves Jr. of Brothers Building, one of the partners (with Irwin Barkan) in Bragg Hill Limited Partnership.

The ten page decision of the planning commission, issued on September 15, cites large sections of the town subdivision regulations as well as the Town Plan which call for creating streetscapes and interconnectivity between developments and existing road networks in the town. Planning commissioners also raised issues with the slope of the land as well as surface water runoff and drainage issues.

Specifically, planners found that "conclusive evidence of the level of service and the resulting proposed impact of the project at the intersection of Bragg Hill and Route 100 was not submitted. Conclusive evidence that the grade three percent at the intersection of the internal connecting road from the proposed multi-family dwellings and the roadway behind Evergreen place, or the capacity of the road to take the proposed traffic of the road, was not submitted. It was alluded to that the existing entrance drive/roadway that serves Brothers Building would be widened to an unspecified width to accommodate additional unspecified traffic."

Regarding drainage and erosion control, planners found that "conclusive evidence that the storm water runoff plans would properly mitigate the impact of the proposed impervious surfaces and proposed changes to the existing water courses on the property, resulting in increased runoff as a result of the proposed project, and not contribute to an already deficient storm water system, was not submitted."

Planners detailed a section of the Town Plan, Chapter 8, which deals with Transportation and 'future road concerns.' That section spells out desired future roadways and connections, including "a connection from the new Mad River Green (Northfield Savings Bank) Road south to Bragg Hill Road."

"The Planning Commission finds that the project as proposed has not demonstrated that it meets the standards for vehicular and pedestrian interconnectivity in a safe and meaningful way that conforms to the Standards of the Town of Waitsfield. Conclusive evidence of the level of service and the resulting proposed impact of the project at the intersection of Bragg Hill and Route 100 was not submitted," planners wrote in their decision.