The Fayston Development Review Board will consider whether or not to grant three requests for reconsideration of its permit for True North Wilderness Programs.

The board is meeting on November 8 and has received requests from True North and two abutters to reconsider provisions of the permit it granted on August 25.

True North wants the Fayston Development Review Board to reconsider the permit it received to operate on 650 acres of land near Phen Basin. Adjoiners to the project object to the request for reconsideration, arguing that it is outside the scope of the board’s purview. Those adjoiners also requested reconsideration if the board decides to re-open the hearings.

True North Wilderness sought permission to develop a wilderness therapy school for up to 42 teens and young adults plus up to 14 counselors on a parcel of land known as the Lathrop parcel. It straddles two zoning districts, the soil and water conservation district and the rural residential district. The parcel is subject to a permanent public recreational easement and it abuts the Phen Basin block of the Camel’s Hump State Forest and the Big Basin lands. 

John Shea, chair of the Fayston DRB, said that town counsel advised the board that it can re-open its hearing to considering specific aspects of the decision.

“And once we do that, both the applicant and the interested parties would be able to make comments about the specific issues we decide to reconsider. Testimony would be limited to the specific issues,” Shea said.

“We may or may not reconsider any of them,” he added.

True North requested reconsideration of the permit conditions. Abutters Liz and John Levey requested that the board deny the request for reconsideration, noting that the town’s zoning does not include a reconsideration provision and arguing that the place for requesting the changes True North seeks is an appeal in Vermont Environmental Court. Should the board reconsider its permit, the Leveys requested the right to be heard on whether True North’s use of the land for a school is compatible with a public recreation easement on the parcel that allows hunting. Another adjoiner, the Big Basin Trust, asked to be heard on the issue of impact on wildlife.

The DRB’s permit reduced the number of permanent campsites from the 12 that True North sought to 7 campsites and provided that the campsites could be used for up to 120 days each, rather than the 90 days that True North sought and that the town’s zoning ordinance spells out.

The decision requires campsites to be 150 to 200 feet from any existing trails and that primitive campsites must be at least 150 feet from streams, brooks or wetlands and no “cat holes” or pit latrines may be used in that buffer.

The board asked for a 1,500-foot buffer around visible bear-scarred birch trees and that True North avoid two campsites in the fall or spring in years when beech trees are producing nuts. The permit also requires that intermittent camping be located no closer than 500 feet from two large beech tree stands when production is moderate to high.

Finally, the permit notes that any proven case of trespassing or proven commission of an illegal act must be reported to the DRB which may alter the permit based on those actions.