Ferrisburgh store ruling pending

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment on Jan. 6 closed its public hearing on a proposed Route 7 Dollar General store, and the 45-day clock started ticking for the board to make a decision on the planned 10,000-square-foot-store.
The owners of a 9.9-acre site at the junction of Route 7 and Monkton Road hope to build a 10,000-square-foot, one-story, metal-sided and roofed building, which the developers hope will be the first of three stores on the site. The lot, now an empty field, lies across Route 7 from the new Ferrisburgh Solar Farm and across Monkton Road from Denecker Chevrolet Inc.
Developers say the national Dollar General chain — there are other outlets around Vermont — sells a mix of hardware, clothing and groceries at competitive prices.
Neighbors and other residents are concerned about the appearance of the building and its landscaping, the impact of the project on the neighborhood, and specifically the effect increased traffic will have on the area.
Zoning chairwoman Charlene Stavenow said a private study commissioned by opponents of the project and presented last week drew different conclusions about its traffic impact than did data the developers provided in November. That November material came from the Agency of Transportation and concluded the impact of their project on local traffic would be minimal.
Developers made a change to the proposal to try to address one specific traffic problem: The entrance to Denecker and one private home is accessed off Reed Road, a short town road that enters the north side of Monkton Road not far east of Route 7.
The homeowner and dealership owner both told the zoning board at an earlier hearing that traffic backs up from the light on Route 7 and blocks Reed Road. Developers have agreed, Stavenow said, to move their entrance further eastward in hopes of reducing its impact on Reed Road; the building’s footprint has also been moved to align with the new entrance location.
The Agency of Transportation has also tweaked its light on Route 7 to improve traffic flow onto the state highway from Monkton Road, she said.
Stavenow said the zoning board will schedule a closed-door deliberative session to consider the application and whether it conforms to zoning and the specific bylaws that apply. Retail is permissible in the Highway Commercial zone there, but as a conditional use.
That status means the board must consider the project’s aesthetics, its impact on the neighborhood and its character, The board may also impose conditions on its approval, which in other Route 7 projects in Ferrisburgh have include limits on signs and hours of operation, and requirements for lighting, landscaping, and other design elements.
As well as specific approval for the Dollar General store, developers are seeking conceptual approval for two more stores. The zoning board would have to issue further permits for additional stores, which developers said would resemble the first building in size and design.
The developers have a state permit for a septic system adequate for three 10,000-square-foot retail stores, but there are no deals in place for the other stores, they said in November.
As of this past Thursday, Ferrisburgh also has a new zoning administrator: Ken Wheeling, who Stavenow said has decades of experience in the same position in Monkton.
Wheeling, who will work 20 hours a week in Ferrisburgh, replaces Tom Mansfield, who said earlier last year he would step down at the end of 2010.
Stavenow said the town was fortunate to get someone with so much experience, and that she expected Wheeling would soon establish regular office hours.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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