Modular home dealer eyes site on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH — The owner of Vergennes modular and mobile home dealership Town & Country Homes Inc. has a town permit and is seeking an Act 250 permit amendment that would allow him to move his sales and display office to Route 7 in Ferrisburgh, just north of Vergennes.
The 17-acre site on the highway’s east side that Town & Country owner Patrick Whitley is eyeing formerly housed a driving range and miniature golf course that was operated by late Ferrisburgh resident Bob McNary.
Whitley plans to use 1.5 acres along the road to display five modular and three mobile homes, replace the driving range hut with a modular office, install a gazebo in the middle of a semicircular drive surrounded by the modular homes, renovate a barn on the property for storage of equipment and home trim, and conserve the remaining 15.5 acres for agriculture use.
“I like that piece of property, and it’s going to look nice and cleaned up when you go into town,” said Whitley, who has operated Town & Country on leased land on Panton Road in Vergennes since 1997.
Property owner Paulette McNary will retain 5 acres with a home, an antiques business and a solar array in the proposed deal, Whitley said.
Whitley, a Weybridge resident, said he has been seeking for years to buy a piece of property onto which to move his business, and this site met all his criteria. 
“It’s something I’ve been trying to do for 15 years,” he said. “It has good exposure.”
The Ferrisburgh Board of Zoning Adjustment granted the proposal a conditional use permit in June. The use is not specifically permitted, but the board ruled Town & Country was similar to other permitted uses that “meet the intent of purpose statement” in the zoning district, including mobile home parks.
The town permit limits the number of modular homes to five and restricts their placement to what was proposed in the application. The board imposed other conditions, including making final the agreement to conserve the 15.5 acres to the rear, shielding the mobile homes from the highway, forbidding occupancy of all homes, requiring all lights to point downward, and renovating the barn as now configured.
Some neighbors objected before the zoning board on grounds that the proposal did not meet criteria for the district, but the plan also earned testimony and letters of support.
Whitley, who said typically there are two employees at his business and a half-dozen in the field, said there would be less traffic than there was for McNary’s ventures. He also pledged to create and maintain a “neat, clean, well-landscaped” site.
Whitley added that nothing he planned would prevent the property to returning to a home with a barn.
“It’s basically a fixed-up barn and a single-family house. It’s not permanent,” he said.
Whitley, whose business typically sites around 18 modular homes a year around Vermont and New York at a total cost of between $215,000 and $250,000 each, including land, said he has heard the plan has earned good word-of-mouth in Ferrisburgh.
“A lot of people around town are glad to see it happen,” he said.
Whitley hopes to hear soon from Act 250 officials about an application filed on Aug. 22, but Geoffrey Green, the district coordinator for the area that includes Addison County, recently retired and at last word had not been replaced.
“I would hope we would know in a month or so … But I guess our application went to Montpelier,” Whitely said. “I’m hoping with my fingers crossed.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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