Ferrisburgh truck depot gets OK, Tuppers Crossing neighors appeal
of a proposed Tuppers Crossing truck depot confirmed on Wednesday they are appealing the Ferrisburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment’s Sept. 6 approval — with conditions — of a project proposed by the DeVos family trucking business.
Route 7 residents Aubrey Choquette said he and fellow Route 7 homeowner Ken Villeneuve are joining with neighbors David Pierson and Jane Melrose on a “group appeal” to Vermont Environmental Court.
During public hearings this summer the four argued the move of the trucking business — in the form of an 8,000-square-foot building on 9 acres with a parking lot — would be inappropriate for the neighborhood.
Choquette on Tuesday emailed to the Independent a statement that he said was on behalf of all four that stated they were “very disappointed” with the ZBA decision, including the board’s failure to take into account the fire hazard they believe empty petroleum tankers pose:
“In our opinion, the conditions attached to this approval do not adequately protect neighboring residences. We feel that the ZBA did not take seriously the hazards and risks associated with the Class 3 hazardous materials (petroleum) tanker trucks that will be parked and operating on a site that is directly adjacent to residences.
“We also feel that the noise, lighting and oversized scale of the project will have an adverse effect on the character of the neighborhood and will negatively affect our quality of life and our property values. In our opinion, the ZBA ignored Ferrisburgh Zoning Bylaws requirements that provide clear standards for development and that are designed to protect neighbors from hazardous and adverse effects.”
The statement concluded that the neighbors will continue to seek a resolution with the DeVos family, which now operates the trucking business on Kimball Brook Farm, an organic farm concern, further north in Ferrisburgh on Greenbush Road.
“While appealing the decision, we are hoping to engage with the DeVoses to help facilitate a more appropriate siting of the project,” the statement said.
The zoning board unanimously granted a permit to JSCL LLC in what is an industrial zone, although with a number of conditions designed to address neighbor concerns. Truck depot is a permitted conditional use in that zone.
Trucking company co-owner John DeVos said overall he was pleased with the outcome, but had concerns about the condition that limited the depot’s operating hours to 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We’re probably going to argue one condition, and that’s the hours of operation,” DeVos said. “I don’t want to say a whole lot because the board’s been good to me.”
DeVos said on Tuesday before he knew for certain the appeal would be filed that he was not 100 percent sure whether he would challenge that provision of the approval.
“We have talked to our attorney about that, and he has not yet gotten back to us about that,” DeVos said. “But he says there are some ways we can approach this.”
But DeVos also said on Tuesday that if neighbors did appeal to Environmental Court, that judicial setting would allow a possible permit amendment without a direct challenge to the town.
“If it goes to Environmental Court, as my lawyer indicated, those changes can be made a lot easier than if you appeal to the town,” DeVos said.
DeVos said the condition is a problem because at times his drivers have to deliver by 5 or 6 a.m.
“When we get our orders the previous day and it says 5 o’clock delivery in Burlington or 6 o’clock delivery in Burlington you can’t start at 5 o’clock and do that,” he said.
Also, at times his drivers leave earlier in the morning to avoid bad incoming winter weather. DeVos also said doing so has not posed a problem in the business’s current location.
“For the 35 years I’ve been doing this we’ve always had the option to pick and choose when to leave because of weather,” DeVos said. “Our particular neighbors right here have never complained about it.”
The DeVos truck depot was first proposed for Tuppers Crossing in 2016 and was the subject of ZBA hearings in June, July and August this year. The DeVos family intends to build the 8,000-square-foot building for performing some repairs on as well as routine maintenance for the trucks, which often haul petroleum products.
Plans call for one full-time and six part-time employees, an outdoor truck-wash area, parking for nine trucks and employees’ vehicles on the west side, an above-ground fuel tank for refueling trucks, security fencing, trees planted both to the east and west of the building, and a berm on the east side.
The lot owned by the DeVos family is at the northern end of the Industrial zone, east of railroad tracks that run parallel to and just west of Route 7. The 9 acres run north from Tuppers Crossing, a short road that connects Route 7 with Botsford Road to the west. There are homes in the area, some close to the site.
The ZBA imposed conditions that were intended to make the project meet Ferrisburgh standards that projects should not have an adverse impact on a neighborhood, that sound not exceed 70 decibels at the property line, that lighting should not be “a nuisance to other property owners,” and no “fire, explosive or safety hazard” will be allowed that “significantly endangers other property owners.”
Conditions included a requirement to use an upgraded landscaping plan that was proposed in August, including moving the driveway to the eastern boundary due to neighbors’ concerns; the limit on hours of operation; a requirement that trucks must be empty when they enter or leave; and an insistence on the 70-decibel limit, an issue because one study said the operation could be louder in one area.
The ZBA also ruled that the DeVos family conducted unpermitted extraction of subsoil in 2016 and must return the lot to its former level and be “reseeded before the landscaping plan is implemented.”
According to Sept. 6 minutes the ZBA faced some questions after it issued its approval.
Tuppers Crossing neighbor Stephanie Warner asked what would happen if the noise at the property boundary exceeded the permitted 70-decibel limit.
According to minutes, “Board members said testing would have to take place to ensure the condition is being met, and that the town’s zoning administrator would be tasked with following up on this. They said the applicant cannot exceed the 70-decibel limit without being in violation of the permit, and that the same held for the limits on hours of operation.”
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