New Haven votes for town offices, rejects Route 7 land use change

NEW HAVEN — Residents of New Haven on Tuesday voted to spend almost $600,000 to build a new town hall and rejected a proposal to allow commercial development on a Route 7 parcel.
By Australian ballot, residents were opposed, 192-126, to a proposal to change the New Haven land use map so that a 30-acre parcel on the west side of Route 7 just south of Belden Falls Road would be zoned “Commercial Highway,” rather than “Rural Agricultural-10 acre.”
The southernmost 10 acres of that parcel is already zoned for commercial development and is the site of Ethan Allen Highway Storage. The family of Steve Dupoise owns the storage business and the entire 30 acres.
Dupoise said during informational meetings before the recent vote that if the change was approved he planned to sell a 5-acre piece of the land to Town and Country Homes, a Vergennes business that sells modular homes. He had not announced plans for the remaining 15 acres that would also be opened up for development.
Not surprisingly, Dupoise was disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday’s balloting.
“It’s kind of a sad day when you own a piece of property … and somebody else says what you’re going to do with it,” he said on Wednesday morning.
Dupoise declined to comment in detail on his plans now that the petition failed.
“I’m not sure I want to divulge that at this point in time,” he said.
Dupoise said he might consider an agricultural use of the land, since that is what it’s zoned for, or he might try to get the status of the land changed again in the next renewal of the town plan about three years from now.
Townspeople decisively approved by a 248-72 tally a proposal to float a $594,000 bond that would fund new town offices. Proceeds of the bond along with about $200,000 from the town’s facilities fund will fund a new office on the site now occupied by the Dana-King House on North Street, next door to the current offices. The Dana-King House has been sold to New Haven resident Tim Goyette and is being moved to South Street.
Selectwoman Pam Marsh said that the plans for a new office were motivated in large part by space limitations of the current office under the town hall.
“We’re basically out of space,” Marsh said at a Monday night town meeting to discuss both the bond vote and the proposed future land use map change.
The town’s current records vault is roughly full to capacity, Marsh said. The new building will solve that problem as well as offer more space for town employees. At about 3,450 square feet, it is at least twice as big as the current space.
The building plans include separate offices for the town clerk, zoning administrator, treasurer and other town officials. The vault planned for the new building will be 301 square feet, about three times as big as the current vault.
Meeting moderator Lanny Smith explained that the town has to wait for a 30-day period to allow residents a chance to petition to reconsider the vote. After that, the selectboard can seek bids on the work. The bond amount of $594,000 is based on an architect’s estimate rather than a contractor’s bid.
Selectman Keith Hall said at the Monday meeting that the board hopes work could start before the coming winter, but municipal offices wouldn’t move into the space until 2009 at the earliest.

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