By Lisa Loomis

Plans by the Central Vermont Community Land Trust to build an eight unit affordable housing complex in Waitsfield were heard by the town planning commission this week.

The commission, on March 20, continued the hearing until next month, requesting more information about the width of Butcher House Road as it passes through the development and existing traffic patterns. The project is proposed for land near the existing Mad River Meadows development and calls for building six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units in two buildings.

When first proposed last summer, the townhouses were slated to sell for approximately $175,000 with grants for down payments available from CVCLT. At this week's hearing CVCLT director Preston Jump and Waitsfield architect Bill Maclay presented final plans to the planning commission.

Commissioners raised questions about the width of the existing road and current traffic patterns as that road serves Mad River Meadows. Commissioners and adjoining land owner Bill Parker voiced concern about pedestrian traffic as the area is home to families with children who walk to and from the school bus stop and ride bikes throughout the area.

As proposed, the plans call for eight-foot-wide on-street parking spaces, rather than the traditional nine-foot-wide spaces. The developer is asking for that as a waiver in deference to the already narrow road through the area.

Maclay also explained two other waivers being sought for the project. One involves waiving an existing zoning requirement that all new construction be two stories. For this project, a single-story extension is proposed on one end of each building to create the two three-bedroom units and to create ADA compliance in two of the units. Those two single-story extensions are part of two-story buildings.

The final waiver sought by CVCLT for this project is a request to be relieved of the obligation to conduct a formal traffic study, due to the cost. Planners pointed out that the lack of sidewalks through the area and the high pedestrian usage made traffic circulation critical and asked that CVCLT conduct an informal traffic count to determine what current traffic rates are and to project the impact of the new development.

Planners and project developers looked at earlier numbers, which project 24 trips per day from the new development, and felt those numbers had been estimated low. Adjoining land owner Bill Parker also asked the commission and the developer to consider creating a sidewalk as part of the project.

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