Vergennes aldermen vote to increase city zoning fees

VERGENNES — City aldermen on Sept. 21 approved a proposal by City Manager Mel Hawley, also the city’s zoning administrator, to raise the city’s zoning fees for the first time since January 2001. Hawley said the Vergennes Development Review Board had worked with him on coming up with the new fee schedule.
The new fees will all become effective Jan. 1. The cost for a basic zoning permit for new construction will remain unchanged, $50 plus 10 cents per square foot of finished space. Eliminated was a separate $25 permit for additions, decks, garages and accessory structures that carried a surcharge of 5 cents per square foot.
All other permits awarded by the zoning administrator — minor amendments, certificates of occupancy, six-month extensions, and declarations of occupancy — will rise from $25 to $50.
Development Review Board permits that do not require subdivisions will all be $100; variance and conditional use applications already cost that much. As of 2011, all requests for site plan reviews, variances, waivers, conditional use permits, use changes, or appeal of zoning administrator’s decision will cost $100.
Subdivision fees received only a minor tweak. Currently, the charge is $150, plus $50 per lot; moving forward, the city will charge a flat rate of $200. The fees for major subdivisions ($300 plus $100 per lot) and minor amendments ($100) were unchanged.
In other business on last Tuesday:
• Heard an update on the city’s new website, which is now under construction.
• Extended permission for the city’s farmers’ market to use the Vergennes green from this month until mid-October. The market operates from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
• Approved a suggestion from Hawley and City Clerk Joan Devine that the two rewrite the city’s dog ordinance. Hawley said the Vergennes Animal Hospital, which serves as the city’s pound, should no longer be asked to collect fines, and Devine said the fines were too high for multiple offenders — they can reach $250 for an incident — and suggested all offenses be $50, plus boarding fees. Aldermen hope a new ordinance can take effect by the end of the year.
• Heard from Hawley that a planned topographical survey of the city-owned 8-acre parcel off New Haven Road will be postponed until after the leaves have fallen, a move that will make the survey easier and cheaper to perform. Costs had been higher than expected because some wetlands analysis was needed, said Hawley, who added that the potential purchaser of a portion of the land, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes, had no issue with the delay.
• Were told by Hawley and Mayor Michael Daniels that plans for the long-awaited move of the historic wooden rail station from off North Main Street to near the Agency of Transportation commuter lot in nearby Ferrisburgh were proceeding. The AOT has deeded the building to the Department of Buildings and Grounds, Daniels said, and a project manager has been appointed, but a move this year is unlikely.
• Heard from Hawley that very few taxes are delinquent, leaving the town with a healthy surplus approaching $100,000 heading into the winter. Hawley had anticipated a surplus of roughly $65,000 at this point, much of it due to the mild winter of a year ago.
• Were told by Hawley that paving had started on Comfort Hill, the length of which would be paved this fall. He also expects North Maple Street and a stretch of MacDonough Drive past Northlands Job Corps to be resurfaced this year.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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