Hinesburg brainstorms ‘Lot 15’ options

Courtesy the Lot 15 Committee
In 2011-12, a committee studied Lot 15 in Hinesburg’s Commerce Park to brainstorm possible future uses for the land. This artist rendering depicts one suggested combination of uses. The conversation about the site continues tonight at Carpenter-Carse Library.

By MADELINE HUGHES

Tonight Responsible Growth Hinesburg is hosting an event to consider possible future uses for the corner of Commerce Park, the site of a proposed Hannaford supermarket.

For 10 years, the Maine-based grocer has tried to move ahead with plans for a store in the heart of Hinesburg village, but regulatory and legal challenges have stalled its progress.

Hannaford received its latest rejection from the town Development Review Board in October, and it is possible the site could become available to be developed for other uses, particularly one or more community facilities as outlined by Hinesburg’s official map.

The recent denial of the project grants the selectboard 120 days to exercise its right of eminent domain — the process by which the government might acquire private property for public use after paying the landowner for it.

The citizen group will present information about ideas developed for the parcel several years ago and it will look to attendees for suggestions, ideas and questions.

So far, Responsible Growth Hinesburg has received more than $100,000 in pledges to buy the land to preserve the wetlands it contains, Catherine Goldsmith told the selectboard at the Nov. 2 regular meeting.

A letter from the citizen group to the selectboard from the group promises: “We are continuing to fundraise. We understand that additional money will be needed for legal fees as well as for land acquisition. The town could also commit funds from the Vermont Gas payment, the Land Conservation fund, and if the balance could be loaned from the Hinesburg Revolving Loan Fund, this land could be saved as the village grows around it. These pledged funds would require that the 1.2 acres of wetland be protected forever and the land be used for community space. Our group would pursue grant funds for wetlands restoration.”

The group has suggested that the town could acquire the parcel, preserve the wetlands and also use the site as park space.

“Our understanding is this is a way to end the unending legal battle,” Goldsmith said about exercising eminent domain.

The Hinesburg Selectboard has said it will take its time in making a decision.

Tonight’s meeting is at 7-8:30 p.m. at Carpenter-Carse Library. It will include refreshments, and the opportunity to enter a raffle for a $1,000 cash prize.

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