Middlebury board OKs plans for new town office and rec center

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) on Monday approved applications for both a new town office building at 77 Main St. and a new recreation facility off Creek Road.
The panel voted unanimously — with Chairman Ted Davis and Vice Chairman Skip Brush abstaining — to endorse the two separate projects after hearing presentations by Bread Loaf Corp. The presentations and related board/audience comments lasted around an hour and 20 minutes, according to Ted Dunakin, Middlebury’s director of planning and zoning.
Some town officials had anticipated it would take multiple hearing dates for the DRB to review and take testimony on the two project applications, both of which had elicited a tremendous amount of debate and controversy leading up to public votes on the projects.
It was on May 13 that residents gave their final OK — by an 880 to 714 margin — to a $6.5 million proposal to erect a new, 9,500-square-foot municipal building at 77 Main St. and a new, 11,400-square-foot recreation center facility on land off Creek Road owned by the UD-3 school district. Middlebury College agreed to underwrite $4.5 million of the construction costs in return for the current municipal building/gym site at 94 Main St. and another town-owned parcel at 6 Cross St. The college will also pay the estimated $1 million cost of moving its Osborne House from the 77 Main St. site to the 6 Cross St. parcel, and to clear the 94 Main St. parcel and turn it into a public park.
Bread Loaf Corp. filed applications for both projects with Middlebury’s planning office on Aug. 29.
Davis and Brush had said they would abstain from DRB voting on the project applications after having publicly weighed in on the proposals prior to the Town Meeting Day and May 13 referenda. It was Brush who petitioned to have the May 13 revote on the plans.
Middlebury residents Michael Olinick and Ellen Oxfeld expressed concerns at Monday’s DRB hearing about parking for the new town office, according to Dunakin. Olinick also questioned whether there would be adequate pedestrian safety for folks negotiating the Main Street roundabout once the town offices are built, Dunakin noted.
The DRB now has 45 days in which to issue final, written decisions on both applications.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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