03/05/2009

By Lisa Loomis

After a developer built a home too close to the adjoining property, on Hastings Road in Waitsfield, the Development Review Board has issued a ruling calling for the border between the two properties to be landscaped and requiring the developer to have the zoning administrator sign off on all future home sites.

The home in question was built by developer Sandy Lawton on one of the nine lots in a subdivision on Hastings Road. The development is known as Hastings Meadow. Lawton built the first home in the development too close to its rear setback and border with adjoining landowner Jim Mall.

REAR SETBACKS

The conditions of Lawton's subdivision permit spell out specific rear setbacks of 25 feet. The home that he began building for Robert Schulz in the summer of 2007 is 19 feet, 4 inches from the rear property line. Last June, Mall informed the town Zoning Administrator Vicky Trihy that the home appeared to be too close to the property boundary. Trihy visited the site and issued an informal notice of violation to Lawton and his partner Adam Lougee and property owner Schulz in August.

Lougee told Trihy that he would try to negotiate a settlement with Mall and Trihy postponed issuance of a formal notice of violation. At the end of September, Lougee asked the town to consider a settlement plan that focused on landscape mitigation between the two homes and reducing the building envelop on a second lot adjoining the Schulz and Mall lots.

ENCROACHMENT

In October the developers submitted an application requesting an amendment to their subdivision permit to reduce the rear setback on the Schulz lot from 25 to 15 feet and also requested a variance to reduce the rear setback on that lot to 15 feet.

In December, Lougee and Lawton said that the encroachment was an honest mistake at a public hearing attended by many residents of Hastings Road.

FLAGGED

The DRB's February 20 ruling found that the developers had "not given sufficient attention to ensuring that the conditions of their subdivision approval are met." The DRB asked that a landscaping plan to screen the two properties be submitted. Additionally, the board requested that the developers submit an updated plat to show all setback distances on all lots within 90 days and will now require each new house site to be flagged for zoning administrator approval.

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