By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — The Bristol community got a chance to give an earful to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) and representatives of the Lathrop Limited Partnership about plans for a gravel pit south of downtown Bristol.
Some area residents spoke up to support Lathrop’s plans for a pit saying it would provide a needed resource — gravel — and its risks are overstated. But almost all members of the public who addressed the board feared its effects on its neighbors and the area.
“I can’t imagine how heavy industry can be allowed in an area not zoned for heavy industry,” Bristol resident Charles Manning told the board.
The plan to open the gravel pit began with an application in 2003 by the family of James Lathrop. The ZBA approved the plan in 2004, but a group calling itself Smart Growth for Bristol, founded by Bristol resident John Moyers and represented by local lawyer James Dumont, appealed that decision. After various hearings in Vermont Environmental Court, Lathrop Limited Partnership in August 2007 filed a new plan with a number of changes, including an access road via Rounds Road.
Opponents of the plan have waited awhile to weigh in on the latest proposal. Tuesday’s hearing followed two other ZBA hearings — one in November and one in March — at which there was only enough time for comments from those involved in building and operating the proposed pit. An estimated 30 to 40 Bristol residents attended Tuesday’s meeting, as well as a few from surrounding towns. About 20 people spoke at the hearing.
Manning, who has visited the Bristol area for decades and recently bought a house on Lower Notch Road, said he was dismayed when he learned about the plan and its effect on the neighborhood. He has not been alone in questioning whether the parcel was zoned for a gravel pit.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Developers of a proposed Staples store off Route 7 South will have to make their project less of a potential contributor to area traffic congestion and more in conformance with Middlebury’s town plan if it is to advance further through the community’s permitting process.
The Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) issued those and other findings on Tuesday in its preliminary review of a 14,737-square-foot Staples store that Myron Hunt Inc. wants to build next to the Hannaford Supermarket portion of The Centre shopping plaza.
“This is not a final decision,” Middlebury Town Planner Fred Dunnington stressed of the DRB report. “It identifies things that need to happen if the project is going to proceed. It lays out the process to take the project to the next step.”
The next steps for Myron Hunt Inc., according to the DRB report, will be to:
• Submit a master plan and narrative, showing — among other things — how traffic circulating in an around the project site will not only affect The Centre shopping plaza, but adjacent properties across Route 7 and on Middle Road.
• Demonstrate how the project can conform to specific provisions of the Middlebury town plan. For example, the town plan already identifies the stretch of Court Street/Route 7 from Creek Road to Boardman Street as an “area … not appropriate for new or expanded large-scale shopping mall development, similar to the existing Hannaford Plaza to the south.”
• Adhere to an existing agreement that The Centre would work with adjoining property owners (the Dollar Market, and the Mobil station, owned by Jolley Associates) to link their respective parking lots to improve traffic flow.