By Kara Herlihy

Robert Crean is appealing a decision made by the Fayston Development Review Board (DRB) to the Vermont Environmental Court. Crean's application for a five-lot subdivision covering 16.5 acres on Slide Brook Road was denied due to critical bear habitat, along with other reasons.

The appeal was filed and dated on December 6.

At the end of November, the DRB found that Crean's proposed subdivision did not meet the requirements of multiple sections of the Town of Fayston Land Use Regulations and noted significant negative impact on critical wildlife habitat.

Their findings cite "significant negative impacts on sensitive lands, such as the critical bear habitat, critical deer winter habitat, and the bear travel corridor and does not adequately minimize or mitigate those impacts."

Continuing, "It is not possible to state that the proposed subdivision will not have an adverse impact on critical deer winter habitat because the applicant did not conduct the necessary investigation of potential deer winter habitat on his property."

Crean was asked to indicate a quarter-mile buffer zone from the critical wildlife habitat but failed to do so.

Members of the Fayston Planning Commission were present at the final public hearing to argue that Crean's proposal did not comply with the Fayston Town Plan, citing the maintenance and protection of bear habitats as well as discouraging development in their vicinity.

The subdivision was denied also in part due to evidence of a bear travel corridor, presence of a deer wintering area, and lack of appropriate buffers as presented on the plat.

"The proposed access via the improvement of Slide Brook Road would be via a probable bear travel corridor. Furthermore, it is believed that this corridor is used by bears to travel between Slide Brook and the Howe Block of Camel's Hump State Forest," the findings report.

The findings also cite the increased travel on Slide Brook Road, which would negatively impact the bear travel corridor, stating "The proposed upgrade/increased use of Slide Brook Road which would be used to access the proposed subdivision would adversely impact the bear travel corridor and there is no proposal to minimize this adverse impact."

This is Crean's second appeal to the Vermont Environmental Court; the first was remanded back to the town last May when a proposal for a nine-lot subdivision on the same parcel of land was denied by the town.