The Warren Planning Commission has proposed a change in the town’s definition of rooming house, increasing the number of lodgers allowed from three to eight people to three to 30 boarders.
After the planning commission heard from Sugarbush planning director Margo Wade this spring, commissioners began work on revising the rooming house definition. Wade came to the town to discuss the resort’s current and future housing needs. If the select board approves the change, some rooming houses will be permitted and others will require conditional use review by the Warren Development Review Board.
“This amendment will provide additional housing opportunities in those areas where higher density either already exists or is desirable. It will be especially helpful for the housing of seasonal workers for Sugarbush Resort which has increased consistently over the past several years,” the planning commission wrote in its report.
“After Margo came to us and talked about the need for housing, we took a look at it and as far as the planning commission is concerned, the housing that Sugarbush is using and proposing is in the right area. We know that employee housing is a critical issue and has been for a long time. We also know that there’s a need for employee housing for other businesses in The Valley as well. We found that the simplest way for us to help Sugarbush and other business owners is to amend the definition of boardinghouse,” explained zoning administrator Ruth Robbins.
The planning commission report on the proposed change cites four areas of the Warren Town Plan that support the amendment including under goals, where supporting the economic viability of Sugarbush is specified; further under goals it states “encouraging development of a diversity of housing types and provides in locations convenient to employment, town facilities, services and commercial centers consistent with traditional settlement patterns.”
Workforce housing is referenced in the Town Plan with the statement that “Warren is the epicenter of seasonal employment in the Mad River Valley with its associated demand for temporary workforce housing.”
“We’re updating the land use and development regulations and may address employee housing to a further degree. This change will allow Sugarbush to convert the building and space at the former Sam Rupert’s into a boardinghouse plus residential housing spaces for 25 to 30 people,” Robbins added.
The issue will come before the Warren Select Board for a public hearing on August 13.