Cornwall subdivision plan is reduced to 10 units

CORNWALL — Applicants for a major new subdivision in West Cornwall have filed a revised plan with the town calling for 10 new residential units instead of the 19 originally requested early last year.
The Cornwall Development Review Board on Thursday, Jan. 10, will review a preliminary plan by Beaver Brook Properties LLC to create a 14-lot subdivision that would ultimately host 10 homes on a small portion of a former 166-acre farm located directly northeast of the intersection of Route 74 and North Bingham Street.
Cornwall residents Churchill Franklin and Matt Bonner are proposing the so-called “West Cornwall Hamlet,” shaping up as one of the largest the local DRB has ever reviewed. The two business partners bought the land — which spans the West Cornwall and Low Density Residential zoning districts — from the Bingham Estate for $850,000 on May 26, 2017.
Bonner said he and Churchill decided to pare back their plan in response to some area neighbors who voiced concern about the scale of the proposed subdivision and the potential traffic the new homes could generate. Many of those neighbors signed a petition last August urging the town selectboard to initiate a traffic study as a precursor to a possible speed limit reduction on Route 74, from West Street to Clark Road.
Beaver Brook Properties commissioned a traffic study by Green Mountain Engineering that concluded the new, 10-unit hamlet would increase average daily traffic by 4.1 percent at the intersection of Route 74 and North Bingham Street. That would equate to seven new trips generated in the peak morning hour and eight during the peak afternoon/evening hour, according to the consultant.
Bonner believes the plan is sound.
“We intended from the beginning for additional new homes in West Cornwall to look as though they belonged, and had always been there,” he said. “It became clear, over many discussions that included neighbor input, that the best way to do that was to reduce the number of units, and for the space among and between them to match the existing settlement pattern on North and South Bingham (Streets).”
According to the Beaver Brook plan, eight of the 14 lots would host new homes — six single-family dwellings and two multi-family abodes. Three of the remaining lots would be designated as undeveloped “common areas,” and the balance would be conserved, according to Bonner.
The “common lots” would be used by all neighboring residents and the cost of their maintenance would be shared, according to the applicants. An association would be formed to handle shared maintenance, utilities, insurance costs and “all other normal association functions related to procedural and financial governance,” the application states.
Approximately 123 of the 166 acres would be conserved through the Vermont Land Trust.
“The plan has been designed in such a way as to have an extremely minimal impact on the surrounding neighborhood, ecology and existing character of the land,” the application reads. “The plan will maintain the scenic views in the vicinity  and will leave all existing farm outbuildings and large/old-growth trees intact.
“Approximately 90 percent of the total acreage of the Bingham property will be left in its present natural state,” the application adds.
Proposed homes would be served by wells and would share a wastewater disposal system — with the exception of one lot that would need its own mound system, according to the applicants.
The development would be served by a looping road that would use an existing curb cut and driveway on North Bingham Street.
All utilities would be undergrounded.
Bingham Memorial Elementary School Principal Jen Kravitz has told the applicants the new homes would not burden the school and Cornwall Fire Chief Dennis Rheaume has determined the subdivision layout will not inhibit fire protection.
Neighbors will get their chance to weigh in on the plan at the Jan. 10 DRB hearing, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Cornwall Town Hall.
Bonner anticipates a multi-month permitting process, and there are still some details to sort out. He didn’t specify prices for the homes, but said they’ll be less expensive than the current $850,000-and-up asking price for homes currently listed in Cornwall.
“It remains to be seen whether we’ll build some of these homes ourselves, or simply make the improved lots available, or a combination,” he said. “Either way, we’ve already had interest expressed by several families with younger children who are interested in raising their kids in Cornwall. We certainly are considering pre-selling some of the homes or home sites.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
Click here to read a sidebar on the recent revisions to Cornwall’s zoning rules.

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