Bristol to sell 18 acres on Stoney Hill

BRISTOL — The town of Bristol is calling for bids and proposals for the sale and development of 18 acres, located on Stoney Hill between Stoney Hill Road and Lovers Lane. Sealed bids, including a description of the proposed use for the property must be submitted to the Bristol town office by July 3.
“The town has always planned on selling that 18.08 acres,” said Bristol Town Administrator Therese Kirby. “Now that the water line project is moving forward, it seems like it’s a good time to try to wrap all that up.”
The 18.08 acres on Stoney Hill are part of a 30-acre parcel the town originally bought from the state of Vermont for $1 in 1999 but that until recently remained undeveloped.
Until recently, the flattest and most easily developable part of the town’s 30 acres was landlocked behind private property on the south side of West Street, owned by the Nelson family. Moreover, much of the town land was within the wellhead protection area for properties along Lovers Lane and thus undevelopable.
The situation began to change in January 2015, when Bristol developer Kevin Harper notified the Bristol selectboard that he had purchased the Nelson property. Harper offered to develop part of that land as the new Bristol fire station (completed last July). Harper’s purchase not only proved key in Bristol’s construction of a long-awaited new fire station, it also opened up West Street access to the 10-acre plateau.
In July 2015, the town signed a purchase and sale agreement with Harper and Stoney Hill Properties for an 8.6-acre business park to be built on those 10 acres. That agreement set the price for the town’s $1 purchase at $35,000/acre if the wellhead protection area were removed and $25,000 if it were not and stipulated a three-year timeframe.
Last May, voters approved a $1.1 million water bond to replace the century-old West Street water line from Airport Drive to Maple Street, address stormwater drainage problems along West Street and bring the roadway into compliance with the Vermont Clean Water Act, and extend town water to the new fire station. The bond also allocated $285,949 (about 26 percent of the $1,115,020 voters approved) to extend town water to Lovers Lane.
The 18 acres currently up for sale benefit from the water bond both because the elimination of the Lovers Lane wellhead area opens the area up for development and because those 18 acres will now be supplied with town water.
Work to extend the town water lines to Lovers Lane and other repairs detailed in the water bond is expected to begin June 19, said Kirby. The work is expected to take close to six months.
Kirby said the town had recently had the 18 acres appraised at $185,000. She said the town is looking for both the highest price and the best use.
Anyone owning those 18 acres would be able to connect to the town water line after the extension was completed, said Kirby, but would have to install septic and manage stormwater on site. Part of the 18 acres has been leased to the Vermont Department of Transportation, and that lease will expire in 2019.
Kirby said Bristol would likely use funds generated by the sale of the 18 acres to add to the town’s capital building fund for maintenance of town properties (such as one of the parks, the fountain on the town green, Howden Hall, Holley Hall, or the town garage).
“It’s just like owning a house,” said Kirby. “There’s always maintenance to be done. There’s no shortage of things to do.”
Kirby also noted that the sale of the 8.6 acres to Harper for the construction of the new business park will be on schedule to conclude once the town water line is extended. She said that the selectboard had promised voters they would use money generated from the sale to Harper to reduce existing debt, such as principal or interest owed toward the new fire station, other fire equipment, or toward the bonds passed for the renovation of Howden Hall and Holley Hall.
The town will conduct a public opening of the sealed bids and proposals at 1 p.m. on July 3. The Bristol selectboard will begin to discuss and consider the proposals at its July 10 meeting.
For more information, contact the Bristol town office.
Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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