By Kara Herlihy

What exactly is '"workforce housing"? Will the bear habitat be protected? These questions and more will be considered on Tuesday, October 16, when applicants for two different subdivisions return to the Fayston Development Review Board (DRB) for hearings.

First on the agenda is Keith and Susan Kuegel's final hearing for a major seven-lot subdivision located on Randell Road. The second is Robert Crean's hearing for a second application on a minor subdivision located on Slide Brook Road.

Both proposed subdivisions have drawn opposition from townspeople; for Kuegel the definition of workforce housing is under contention, and for Crean the major issue is protection of a wildlife habitat.

The Kuegel hearing was scheduled for September 18 but was pushed to October 16 after the applicant's failed to send letters to abutters warning of the second hearing.

Keith and Susan Kuegel presented to the Fayston Development Review Board (DRB) August 29 an application for a planned residential development (PRD) on about 37 acres off Randell Road.

Plans call for five new home lots of less than one acre in addition to a roughly six-acre lot for the existing Kuegel home. A 29-acre common lot has been designated for conservation.

The town of Fayston turned down a previous application from the Kuegels for a nine-lot subdivision on the same property.

Linda Lloyd, representing the Mad River Valley Planning District and the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition, said the type of home proposed by the Kuegels is "very very sorely needed."

Workforce housing can be difficult to define, she said, because it depends on varying factors such as the median income for the area, interest rates and a fluctuating real estate market.

The second applicant, Robert Crean, presented to the development review board (DRB) August 29 a plan for a five-lot subdivision, after meeting with town representatives and a mediator as required by Vermont Environmental Court. According to court documents, the parties reached a settlement May 16.

The town denied Crean's previous application in part because of "significant negative impacts on critical bear habitat."

The current proposal includes a roughly eight-acre lot to be permanently protected from development. The mediation settlement also stipulates 100-foot buffers for unnamed brooks and other restrictions involving barbecues, fruit trees and motorized recreation vehicles.

Fayston DRB member Chuck Martel noted that a report from a state wildlife biologist, submitted for Crean's previous application, also cited the probable existence of a travel corridor between the Slide Brook Basin and points east, including Camel's Hump State Forest.

But the applicant, Bob Crean, presented evidence that seemed to contradict those observations and reports.

Crean cited text from the Act 250 decision issued for Sugarbush's Intertie Lift regarding bear travel through the area. Experts agreed that bear access is from the "west over the spine of the Green Mountains," Crean said, quoting from the decision. He emphasized the lack of proof regarding a travel corridor.