Sugarbush’s Sugar Cube workforce housing project received conditional use approval from the Warren Development Review Board this week, exactly a week after the first hearing on the project.
The board voted unanimously to approve it and will sign the decision at its March 6, 2023, hearing.
Margo Wade, resort director of planning, returned to the DRB on February 6 with a revised site plan that addressed several DRB concerns. She presented three options, but the review focused primarily on the third, which was the preferred option.
This option calls for building a four-bedroom single-family home on one of the lots and then combining two of the lots to build a three-story duplex, with four bedrooms in each unit. Wade explained to the DRB how this proposal reduced the percentage of the lot that was being used to less than 50%, which the board had asked for at the prior meeting. This plan also increases the wellhead protection area and designates winter storage for snow.
She also noted that the driveway had been reduced to 12 feet and was now one way with traffic entering from the Access Road and via existing Golf Course Road. By combining parcels three and four, the resort is able to further reduce the percentage of the lot that is covered. That option may require an amended wastewater permit from the state, she said.
The Sugar Cube project is on the corner of the Sugarbush Access Road and Golf Course Road and is part of a four-lot subdivision permitted in the late 1960s. Currently only one dwelling is standing. Roberta and Gerald Principe own it. The total acreage between parcels 1, 3 and 4, which Sugarbush is redeveloping, is approximately 0.33 acres. The lots have deeded rights to a shared well and deeded rights to septic disposal at the adjacent Sugar Lodge. All the lots are preexisting and nonconforming and any redevelopment cannot increase the degree of nonconformity.
The board spent time discussing the parameters of how the proposed project meets the zoning requirement that the degree of nonconformity not increase. Board chair Peter Monte asked whether increasing the volume (two and three stories) increased the degree of nonconformity and board member Devin Kline Corrigan said she thought the standard required that building footprints and distance from lot lines was used to define the degree of nonconformity.
Board member Megan Moffroid said that at the January 30 meeting the board had considered this to see if there was a way to make this work for both Sugarbush and the Principes who have concerns about the proximity of the ingress to their home and also have concerns about the well.
Board member Jeff Schoelkopf concurred that the proposal falls within the code and had been discussed last week. He said a duplex makes for more compact development and would be nicer for the neighbors in terms of view and impact.
Roberta Principe thanked Sugarbush for the work they’d done but reiterated her concerns about being surrounded by a road. She asked if access could be through the Sugar Lodge and Wade said that the lodge already had limited parking and would lose a space if that happened.
Board members discussed using fencing and landscaping to shield the Principes from the driveway.
WATER SUPPLY CONCERNS
Roberta Principe raised further concerns about the water supply and Sugarbush CEO John Hammond said the resort would consider getting the well into a more standard conformity and the resort is successful in its permitting process. Moffroid asked if a condition could be added to address potential impacts of the project on the water supply. Hammond pointed out that the well is going to be supplying the resort’s employees as well and said water issues would equally impact the resort. He added that in the 1970s the well supplied all four buildings.
Board members and the Sugarbush representatives discussed whether a baseline well capacity test was needed, whether it was or was not fair to make Sugarbush responsible for the well and water given that there is no increase in the number of bedrooms from when the original dwellings were occupied.
“There is a six-unit subdivision on the other side of the property that’s going to put additional demands on the water table. That could drive up the well. Right now, the deed says that all property owners here are required to maintain and pay for the well. Why is that not acceptable?” Hammond asked.
“It’s also a question of whether you are overburdening it,” Monte responded.
Roberta Principe suggested that the new use of the well would be tenfold.
After further discussion the board suggested that Sugarbush and the Principes come to an agreement on how to address the water issue and submit that and a landscaping plan to the board by March 1.
Sugarbush considers this housing to be for year-round employees with higher levels of training. The resort is also proposing a four-story building at the former Rosita’s parcel – also on the Access Road. The project will include 16 studio apartments and 44 single bedrooms on each floor, sharing congregate kitchen/living /bathing areas.