Hinesburg recreation fields win approval

By Gail Callahan

The long-held dream of the Bissonette family moved a step closer to reality when the Hinesburg Development Review Board (DRB) approved four, separate applications to construct a town recreational field complex on Tuesday, Dec. 2. Continued from a Nov. 18 meeting, the board approved the project unanimously in private session.

During the open part of the meeting, project engineer Doug Henson highlighted changes discussed at the Nov. 18 hearing. The only sticking point was a two-foot wide culvert deemed too small to handle a 100-year weather event. Henson said they are considering other design options, but each design has the same opening size.

The choices include a 54” circular culvert or one that measures 64” by 43.” Because of certain physical constraints involving water and sewer lines, along with cost, Henson is holding off on finalizing a culvert design. He will, however, draw up a detailed plan for the stream buffer area with specific attention to culvert and erosion control problems.

Turning away from the presentation, DRB Chair Zoe Wainer brought up emergency vehicle access. She favors a hard-pack base extending to the parking area, affording emergency service vehicles a solid base to access the fields.

During the most recent review process, the board referred back to four draft approvals submitted by the town’s Planning and Zoning Department. DRB member Ted Bloomhardt raised concerns about road gravel. He mentioned that fellow board members should not be swayed from an engineer’s recommendations. Henson recommended 24” of gravel, adding that the road could be built according to Town Class 3 road standards (12” of bank run gravel and 6” of crushed gravel). With that portion clarified, Bloomhardt suggested the board consider plan revisions in deliberative session.

Board member Dick Jordan expressed concern about soil stockpiles on the draft site plan. He recommended the piles be allowed for two years or as many construction seasons. After that time frame the areas should be spread, seeded, or removed.

Haystack Crossing/Black Rock Construction

Developers reworked a sketch plan for the Haystack Crossing project that was denied by the DRB four months ago. They returned with a revised plan presented by project engineer Dave Marshall, and received input and criticism from some local residents.

The proposal includes 281 dwelling units consisting of 70 detached single-family homes, 40 attached single-family houses, 115 multi-family dwelling units made up of two, 10-plex buildings, eight mixed-use buildings, and 56 units of mass senior housing. Also included are four categories of commercial and light industrial businesses for a total of 61,000-square feet.

At the conclusion of the lengthy public hearing, the DRB opted to continue the matter during its Jan. 6 meeting. Wainer broke down the information into four, separate categories: impacts on local schools; feedback from municipal departments and committees; impact of infrastructure in Hinesburg’s agricultural district, and whether that triggers an insurmountable issue and “clean up” of any remaining items as noted in the Planning and Zoning Department’s staff report.

Greg Waples, DRB member, had an exchange with Marshall about right-hand access in and out of the complex. Marshall emphasized in the past that removal of that egress would “kill” the commercial elements of the plan. The access has since been removed; commercial buildings will be accessed by an interior main road.

Other members weighed in with questions for Marshall. DRB member Sarah Murphy discussed a proposed land swap with an adjacent neighbor, KB Realty, near the Vermont 116 access. Marshall and co-presenter Mike Buscher noted the proposal to swap land is still part of the project and Haystack has won a right-of-way across the adjacent property, the proposed access site to Vermont 116.

Wainer asked about project phasing. Marshall noted that a number of things, including a traffic study, must be completed first, and that additional input from the DRB will help shape phasing.

Waples reminded developers that the town currently lacks sufficient sewer and municipal water capacity for the project. Weinhagen noted that the Selectboard is studying the protocol for water and sewer capacity. Marshall said developers would hold off on water and sewer allocations until preliminary plat review.

The board peppered Marshall with questions about the project’s impact on local schools and distribution of commercial uses throughout the plan. Weinhagen said the department will outline impacts during the Jan. 6 meeting, and developers are embracing a combination of commercial and residential uses in a building known as Building E.

Public comments on the proposal ranged from concerns regarding solar power, installation of a traffic light, to what type of businesses will move in.

Resident Mary Beth Bowman criticized project density, and called for the number of housing units to be cut in half. Marshall disagreed, noting the plan’s density is in line with Hinesburg regulations. Addressing project impacts on infrastructure, Geoffrey Gevalt wondered why the plan is still under consideration because he saw no difference between the revised design and the one rejected by the DRB in August. He was surprised that definitive impacts on schools, fire, and police are still not spelled out.

Other Business:

The board also approved the Galiga/Janda Subdivisions sketch plan. The scope of the project involves building a two-lot subdivision for residents Philip Galiga and Ann Janda on Lomeadow Road.