Ferrisburgh gives potential buyer of town land more time

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh selectmen and the contracted buyer of a town-owned parcel have reached an agreement to extend for a second time a key purchase contingency of the $375,000 contract.
Montpelier’s Eastern Development Corp. now has until June 30 to market its still-undisclosed plans for the town’s 34.9-acre parcel at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A.
The original terms of the Aug. 1 deal between the town and Eastern Development Corp. gave the buyer until Nov. 15 to find a user or users for the prominent parcel next to the Agency of Transportation’s park-and-ride lot.
On Nov. 1, the Ferrisburgh selectboard met with Eastern Development Corp. officer and legal representative Frank von Turkovich, and the board gave Eastern Development until mid-February to satisfy the contract’s marketing contingency.
On Feb. 21, the board met with von Turkovich and the town’s real estate broker, Matt Tedder of Burlington’s Pomerleau Real Estate, and agreed to give Eastern Development another four months.
Selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence last week said Tedder recommended the second extension in what appears to be an improving commercial real estate climate.
Essentially, Lawrence said selectboard members agreed that it was worth giving von Turkovich and his firm more time to line up potential tenants rather than risk losing Eastern Development as a potential full-price buyer for the parcel.
“They feel there’s still interest in the land and want to pursue it further,” Lawrence said. “They’re feeling the market is getting stronger, and they want to pursue some of the leads they have.”
Eastern Development also paid a $15,000 deposit, which would be returned if the company cannot fulfill the contingency in a timely manner.
Von Turkovich did not share specifics about potential property tenants, although Lawrence said they could include a family restaurant or other small business, or possibly light manufacturing.
She said Eastern Development is aware of concerns that a business on what she called “probably one of the most valuable commercial sites around” should not detract from nearby downtown Vergennes.
“They know what we want and we don’t want. They know what’s going to work for the community and surrounding communities,” said Lawrence, adding, “They know we don’t want another gas station.” 
If the contingency is met on June 30, the contract calls for Eastern Development to apply for permits within 30 days. The final sale is contingent on Eastern Development obtaining permits and financing for its project, and on the land passing environmental and engineering muster.
The land boasts an open site with permitted wastewater capacity, level topography, high traffic volume, easy access to rail transportation, and frontage on two of the state’s busiest highways. It is zoned industrial, with retail uses conditionally permitted. 
Of the land’s 34.9 acres, 23.3 acres are subject to conservation easements that allow only agricultural uses; some of that land is also wet. On the remaining 9.7 acres, other easements restrict its building envelope to 4.5 acres.
Selectmen hope to use sale proceeds to complete a $150,000 purchase of a home and 2 acres next to Ferrisburgh’s town offices and community center. 
Under terms of that sale, former owners Donald and Patience Sisters are remaining in the home indefinitely. They are paying rent that starts at $500 a month for five years.
The mortgage for the property is costing a little less than $10,000 a year, officials said, and the town is paying a small amount for exterior maintenance. The Sisters’ rent is covering $6,000 of those annual costs until the parcel that is now under contract is sold.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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