Hinesburg DRB inches closer to town rec fields creation

By Gail Callahan

The creation of town recreation fields inched closer as the Hinesburg Development Review Board (DRB) began its review of the current application (Sketch Plan Version 2) for Haystack Crossing, an 84-acre undeveloped property south of Shelburne Falls Road on the west side of Route 116, proposed by Blackrock Construction. The current application proposes a conceptual master plan for the entire property including 225 new dwelling units, 56 units of senior/congregate housing, nearly 50,000 square feet of commercial and light industrial space, along with community green space. Specifically the board heard plans about the 8.3 acres that will be conveyed to the Town of Hinesburg to create recreation fields and an access road. The plans were presented by Hinesburg Town Administrator Trevor Lashua, with input from local attorney Roger Kohn and Hinesburg Director of Planning and Zoning Alex Weinhagen.

The DRB is working to ensure that the rec field portion of the project can be considered as a standalone proposal. Hinesburg Zoning Administrator Peter Erb is crafting draft approval language for the Dec. 2 hearing.

Earlier this year, the DRB rejected specific portions of the Haystack Crossing proposal. Blackrock is slated to present a re-worked plan to the DRB on Dec. 2, and it was suggested that the rec fields should be constructed before the rest of the development, if it wins town and state approval. “At this point, no one knows what will be built on the rest of the property,” said Erb. It was also pointed out that if the rec fields aren’t constructed; the parcel will revert back to the Bissonettes.

Both Weinhagen and Kohn noted that the town is balking from paying association fees meant to help support the project’s infrastructure needs. Traditionally, homeowners who make up an association pay fees for property maintenance. “The town will pay for its fair share of the continuation of the roadway,” Kohn said. Erb noted the design and quality of the road is still under discussion. Hinesburg Fire Dept. Chief Al Barber raised concerns about emergency vehicle accessibility to the fields. Barber’s written statement asked if the DRB would consider asking the developer to add guardrails.

Hinesburg Recreation Director Jennifer McCuin was present to discuss the use of the fields and when the recreation department would likely use the area. She indicated that teams would use the fields in the spring and then wrap up fall sports near the end of October. “The fields would open the door for adult pick-up soccer games,” she said adding that the project is in step with Wayne Bissonette’s plans for the site. A lifelong farmer and active volunteer in the local community, the senior Bissonette was prompted to donate the land for recreational purposes after attending his granddaughters’ athletic games.

Following Lashua’s description of the parking area of nearly 80 spots, slated to be screened by trees and a nearby auxiliary parking area on the grass, lighting and where it should be placed was also discussed. No overhead lighting is planned for the field. However, bright lighting illuminating the parking area appears to have support among DRB members.

Hinesburg Selectboard member Tom Ayer attended the DRB meeting to address fundraising and landscaping. Costs for landscaping the parcel may come in at about $21,000, but it was suggested that the figure was on the high end, and the work would cost closer to about $14,000. DRB member Ted Bloomhardt noted that the cost of landscaping plans are noted on town documents and must remain consistent.