Hinesburg DRB lends support to plan for old police station

The former site of the Hinesburg police station is now owned by Energy Futures Group.
The former site of the Hinesburg police station is now owned by Energy Futures Group.

The Hinesburg Development Review Board is moving ahead with conditions of approval for the former site of the Hinesburg Police Station. During the panel’s regular March 15 meeting, members voted to have Hinesburg’s Planning and Zoning Department staff draft a document outlining steps to give the green light for preliminary plat review for a subdivision and a Planned Unit Development.

The property sits on the west side of Vermont 116 and on the south side of Farmall Drive.
Energy Futures Group, which is located on Hinesburg’s Mechanicsville Road, purchased the building. Chris Neme, a principal of the firm, said the building would be used to house his company and would also include space for retail. A public park, located near the business complex, is also in the offering.

The project initially appeared before the board last fall. Neme outlined future uses of the building during the meeting. He said a retail space is planned for the first floor, an office area on the second floor, and the site where there’s now a garage and small addition will be the new home for Neme’s firm. He also noted the structure will be a Net Zero Energy building. A basement, which is “wet,” will be cleaned up and repaired.

Last month, Neme, Hinesburg Town Administrator Trevor Lashua and Director of Planning and Zoning Alex Weinhagen gave a broad overview of the proposal. When the town officials and Neme returned for the most recent meeting, they addressed specific questions several members of the board brought up last month.

The board received revised plans for the project on the day of the meeting, a move that prompted Hinesburg Development Review Board member Greg Waples to note disappointment that the panel had just so recently been given newly-updated plans. Weinhagen pointed out that the project engineer had just finished re-working the blueprint plans.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of the plans, the board heard that the site will have six dedicated parking spaces. Those spots will likely be used by employees of Energy Futures Group. Also, it’s likely that clients of the firm will either utilize parking on the street or use other spots near the business, walking to the office.

The discussion then moved to a dedicated/handicapped parking spot. Because the parking area has no more than 25 parking spots, one specific spot is necessary. It is slated to pave the way for easier access into the site, Lashua said. Also, the area will be shared between the new police station building and the Energy Futures Group structure. The arrangement prompted a discussion between board member Dick Jordan and Weinhagen. At that point, Jordan wondered what would happen if an employee needed to use the spot during the work day, therefore rendering it unavailable to visitors to the business who might need to use it. Weinhagen interjected that the same would be applicable if a police officer, who had a disability, used the spot during his shift. The issue would have to be re-visited, Weinhagen noted.

Because of the size and dimensions of the parking lot and business, the American with Disabilities Act mandates that the site provides one handicap-accessible parking spot.

Moving from parking to landscaping plans, Weinhagen and Lashua noted that street trees are slated to be planted along the connector road. At the same time, the main infrastructure around the area known as lot No. 1 will be improved and maintained once development is completed. Board member Sarah Murphy appeared to want a more stringent timeline for landscaping to be completed. Weinhagen and Lashua have pushed for a five-year plan. Additional plans for the area include a dedicated sidewalk by the building.

On the heels of the landscaping discussion, storm-water control also was broached. Weinhagen stated again that project engineer Otter Creek Engineering pledged run-off can be handled by the town. Murphy and Weinhagen didn’t see eye-to-eye about the area, with murphy calling it “soggy and wet,” while Weinhagen disagreed. “We’ll have to agree to disagree,” Weinhagen said.

Also mentioned was the outdoor lighting plan, which will conform to town standards.