Lot 15 Committee
April 28, 2011
Present: Carrie Harlow, Joe Iadanza, John Kiedaisch, Rocky Martin
Also in Attendance: Alex Weinhagen, John Roos
Alex W is joining the meeting to discuss the Official Town Map and some other legal questions regarding the work the committee is facing:
Official Map serves as both a planning and a regulatory tool. Regardless of Hannaford application, the Official map showed the interest of the Town in utilizing the land for potential public use. Community interest in the property isn’t necessarily tied to the Development Review Board’s (DRB) determination on the Hannaford application’s accommodation of the Official Map. Alex emphasized this committee’s work is important, regardless of the “120 day” window and the interplay between the DRB review of the Hannaford application and the Official Map.
“120 day clock” would begin with denial by DRB based on the Official Map. If the town does not institute proceedings to acquire an interest in the property within 120 days, then the DRB would need to review the Hannaford application again without regard to the Official Map. However, if the DRB denies due to other issues in addition to or instead of the Official Map, the 120 days may not come into play.
What is “instituting proceedings?” Alex shared that his take is there has to be a “good faith effort” to move forward (ie, a vote, purchase and sales contract) – something clear, procedural and in writing. Alex reported that Town Attorney Bud Allen’s take would be there is an “unwilling seller” (ie, Hannaford’s current contract) which would mean the town might have to pursue “eminent domain” process which requires compensation to the landowner for the fair market value of the property.
Looking at the Official Map, another question was looking at the list of notes, can we be looking at other uses not listed on the Map? Alex says “absolutely, talk about all of the options.” The list on the Map Legend is not an exclusive list, so the committee could discuss other uses than what is listed. He said the list represents examples that demonstrate that the “future community facility” designations (five brown areas shown on the map) represent future uses with a substantial footprint as opposed to a the smaller or linear facilities also shown on the map (e.g., sidewalks, future roads, etc.). Advice from Bud Allen was that looking at past cases, “eminent domain” doesn’t seem to do as well with parks, rather than uses like community centers, road, sidewalks, etc.
The question came up about public-private partnerships. During the process of developing the Official Map, there was some idea that maybe there would be some use for private development combined with public land. There had even been some discussion about adding additional notes to the reverse side of the Map.
According to Rocky, there has been consultation with VT League of Cities and Towns, and they have sent back information which confirmed that there is not a lot of case law/history to which they can refer. Alex says there is a recent case in South Burlington around development and developer vs. Official Map. Advice that the town had gotten was for the DRB to go through Review process in its entirety and approve or deny based on all information, not simply based on the Official Map issue.
According to VLCT, under eminent domain, Hinesburg has the right to engage in conversations with the landowners should that process take place. It might be good to get a follow up opinion, if the optionee has a significant amount invested in the property – do they have a say or right to compensation in this process?
Alex recommended that the committee try to give the Select Board time and notice about some of the pertinent issues we see and/or resources needed (legal council, appraisal) should they need to move forward.
Recommendation to look for funds for “planning money,” in addition to “purchase and development money”. Alex has a contact at the VT Community Foundation that he can provide that he had from a recent grant application the town had applied for.
Part of the Lot 15 Committee challenge is to designate and clarify a need for the Town for that land.
Group Went Over Past Meeting Notes: Information clarified and corrected.
List of Committee Tasks has been merged and simplified – John will send that information along.
Discussion About Funding Sources: John K recommended Carrie start with VT Land Trust to begin search and find additional contacts.
Rocky M shared an e-mail he received from legal council for Vt League of Cities and Towns regarding questions the committee had about Official Maps. In the e-mail, Rocky had been referred to Paul Connor of South Burlington or Sarah Hadd in Colchester regarding their experiences with the Development Review Process and Official Maps.
Discussion About Parking for Future Park for Lot 15: Joe had done some estimates about parking spaces which were presented at last meeting.
Rocky had looked into the cost of the National Bank of Middlebury – the property sold at about $70,000, which was considered a “discounted price.”
John R Had Done Some Research About Property Tax Rates and Census Data From Surrounding Towns: Williston, Hinesburg, Charlotte and Milton. He has collected data but has not analyzed it yet. He has seen some interesting trends looking at Williston – in relation to the development there, tax revenues and property tax rates. Discussion about how increased traffic in Hinesburg could impact taxpayer costs – such as roads, bridges, fire and police protection, etc, which might be hard to measure. At this point, the only information we have as far as costs to taxpayers relates to what is lost to tax rolls due to the land not being taxed.
There would be costs associated with Lot 15 that might be able to be estimated such as maintenance and repair, which we should be able to estimate and provide.
Next Meeting scheduled for May 12, 2011 at 7 p.m.