OFFICE OF THE ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
Town of Halifax, Vermont
ZBA MEETING MINUTES–DRAFT
February 14, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:04 p.m. Zoning Board of Adjustment members Sirean LaFlamme, Bill Pusey, Turner Lewis, Kaitlin Stone, and Patty Dow were present, as were William Moore, Sue Kelly, Marilyn Allen, Stephan Chait, John LaFlamme, Janet Taylor, Rick Gay, John Coster, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Chairwoman Sirean LaFlamme advised the ZBA meeting would be held before the Planning Commission meeting, as she expected reviewing new permit application forms would take a fair amount of time.
Zoning Permit #17-2 Revocation
After distributing sets of paperwork to Commissioners, John LaFlamme told the meeting he was appearing as an interested party in the matter of zoning permit #17-2, a building permit for cabins at the Abbott’s Glen property, 3542 Vermont Route 112. LaFlamme is construction contractor for the project, and is named as applicant on the permit. LaFlamme said he had submitted the permit on January 30th. On January 31st he spoke with Zoning Administrator William Moore, who explained additional fees were needed. Three cabins were listed on the permit application, but each of the proposed new structures would require its own permit. This was corrected, and Moore told LaFlamme the permit had been issued and mailed to the property owner. On February 3rd, LaFlamme received a letter from Moore advising the permit had been revoked. (Transcriber’s note: The revocation was occasioned by discovery that the State Act 250 permit related to this construction had expired in October 2016. Immediately prior to this evening’s meeting, the District #2 Natural Resources Board issued an administrative amendment extending the Act 250 permit through October 15, 2019.) LaFlamme visited the Town office to view the permit and learned that Moore had removed the copies.
After outlining the situation, LaFlamme questioned whether the ZA had the authority to revoke a permit which had been issued, or to issue a stop work order. He also wanted to know why copies of the permit were removed, why the proposed construction was now defined as commercial (at a higher fee) when previously constructed cabins were classified residential, and why a new plot plan was requested. A plot plan was submitted and approved by Act 250 and by the ZBA during the Halifax conditional use permitting process, he advised.
Sirean LaFlamme said she found no changes in the current zoning regulation, and noted this project would have been grandfathered, as the approvals were granted prior to adoption of the present regulation. Bill Pusey asked what was included in the original permits, and who owned the cabins. The original permits were for five cabins, responded LaFlamme. The land is owned by the Abbotts, but the structures themselves are owned by other individuals. The cabins are not on foundations; they are built on skids. Sirean LaFlamme read the ZBA conditional use decision issued in October 2012. It approved construction of a new kitchen, increased restaurant seating, reduction of tent camp sites to three and replacement of five tent camp sites with cabins, the addition of a bath house, and three B&B rooms. Pusey and Kaitlin Stone queried the taxation process; Sirean LaFlamme said the Abbotts received the tax invoice and cabin owners paid their portion.
Turner Lewis requested clarification of the time limit on the Act 250 permit. That permit expired in October 2016, explained John LaFlamme; a fact that did not come to light until after the current town building permit had been issued. The State Natural Resources Board has now issued an extension of the Act 250 permit. So now you can have your building permit, said Rick Gay. No problem. But what about the redefinition of “residential” to “commercial”? The new cabins will be classified as residential, said Bill Moore. Moore felt the construction should have been commercial, but as the first two structures were classified residential he agreed the new cabins would be, also. Now the extension has been approved, all they have to do is refile the town permit application he said. In discussion, both Moore and John LaFlamme advised they had difficulty locating relevant documents, and it was noted that the time frame for the original permitting process corresponded with the period during which former secretary Phyllis Evanuk was very ill and passed away.
Bill Moore agreed that the existing, previously approved, plot plan is suitable for use with the new building permit application. He said he had returned the Abbott’s fee and once the Act 250 was recorded by the town clerk the application could be resubmitted. Turner Lewis, examining the Act 250 permit approval, remarked that the State’s permit listed six cabins (not five) and a bath house. However, the Town’s conditional use permit allows five cabins. This is a large project, said Pusey, I think we should be able to see the location of all the buildings on the plot plan.
John LaFlamme’s question about whether a permit could be revoked, or be subject to a stop work order, did not find an immediate satisfactory answer. LaFlamme made the argument that once a permit is issued, the only recourse is an appeal. Patty Dow noted that the zoning administrator has thirty days in which to submit a permit for recording with the Town Clerk, and the document in question had not been submitted. Rick Gay said that as this specific situation had been resolved, there was no point to an appeal process. Just refile the permit, he added. In the future, said Moore, I will take more time, and be sure all pertinent documents are included with applications. Gabriel will research a zoning administrator’s authority to revoke a permit.
Patty Dow, referring to page 49, section 808, of the Halifax zoning regulations, noted a requirement for a certificate of occupancy. A property owner building in a flood zone is instructed to apply to the zoning administrator for this certificate. Do we have such an application?, asked Dow. We do not; Gabriel will research the question and attempt to find a template.
Hearing of Visitors
The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.
Interim ZBA Secretary