June 4, 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — A newly formed Ferrisburgh committee met on Thursday with the new owners of a 34-acre Route 7 parcel that town residents twice voted on whether to buy, and the two sides talked seriously about the town buying some of the land.
The parcel’s owners as of May 18 are Peter and Lisa Denton of Ferrisburgh, in partnership with David Carpenter of Charlotte. Under the name DC Builders and Developers LLC they paid $750,000 for the property, which includes a house and a barn and abuts the town’s elementary school and future town office site.
That purchase price from Clark Hinsdale Jr. of Charlotte was the same amount the town of Ferrisburgh had agreed to pay for the land, which has both the only good soils for in-ground septic systems in the Route 7 village area and local permits for a nine-lot housing subdivision. The town’s easements on the land for septic service for the school and the town office site remain in force.
Residents backed the $750,000 purchase in December, 242-218, but rejected it in a February revote, 276-259. After the second vote the Dentons, who own the Ferrisburgh Bake Shop and Deli, a Route 7 business that also abuts the land, approached Hinsdale and struck a deal.
Peter Denton and Carl Cole, a member of the new Ferrisburgh Land and Facilities Committee, confirmed the parties discussed on Thursday the town’s potential purchase of between two and four of the nine approved lots at the parcel’s south end, near the school and town office site.
Cole said committee members — he, planning commission chairman Ted Ingraham, Selectman John DeVos, Bob McNary and Charles Shapiro, a group charged with making a recommendation to selectmen — generally believe the town should act.
“We would like at least two of the lots … depending on terms,” Cole said.
Cole believes voters may be receptive to buying a smaller portion of the parcel with a smaller price tag. If voters had backed the town purchase selectmen had planned to resell much of the land once they had determined what the town needed after public meetings.
Proponents of the initial deal generally envisioned a town center, including a mix of public and private uses, possibly including parking for the school and town offices and a new post office.
“We would only be buying the parts of the property we need,” Cole said.
Cole also noted that, in addition to financial considerations, evidence of minor environmental contamination that surfaced just prior to the second vote would no longer be a factor because problem sites lie on the northern and western parts of the property.
“To a great extent those concerns may have been put to rest by Peter buying the property,” he said.
Denton, an experienced home builder who would like to offer “build packages” on much of the land, said his plans allows the town at least some time to act. He is working on permits for a Route 7 curb cut that he hopes will allow him to install an access road by late summer or early fall.
Denton, who would then like to break ground on homes by later this year or early next, also said that a smaller price tag could work to the town’s advantage.
“It will be easier for the town ... not to deal with paying for the whole chunk,” he said.
Denton and the committee plan to meet again on Wednesday, at which time Cole said Denton will have done more homework on development costs, an effort that will allow the parties to start to talk pricing on the part of the land that he believes will be of the most value to the town and most interest to residents.
“The thing to emphasize here is we’re looking to acquire the minimum land we think the town will need for the future,” Cole said.