WILMINGTON -- Two local business owners were not pleased when a construction crew arrived last week at Memorial Hall to begin a project that is supposed to extend the backside of the building.
Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy said construction had begun but then issues related to an oil tank having to be moved caused a delay.
"In the meantime, two abutters have retained an attorney to appeal the (Development Review Board) decision," he added.
On Oct. 2, the Selectboard began discussing the issue, which local resident and business owner Cliff Duncan specifically came to speak on. He brought up the lawsuit that was filed on behalf of two adjoining landowners, the Incurable Romantic owner Cindy Beaudette and Crafts Inn Manager Alice Richter, who had not made their views known at the DRB hearing regarding the design plans.
The extension on Memorial Hall had been designed for a new heating and air conditioning unit, which had been approved for the town by the DRB.
"How did the DRB approve the extension of that building to what I understand is over property the town does not own? This has turned into a real ugly thing between the town and two prominent owners of businesses," said Duncan. "When a long-standing business owner has to file a suit to get dually heard, something is off the track."
He encouraged Selectboard members to speak with the business owners.
The town's attorney Bob Fisher made a motion to have the appeal dismissed in the Environmental Court on Oct. 1.
"Everything is on hold until they make a determination," said Murphy.
Selectboard member Susie Haughwout felt that the board should ask the DRB why it made the ruling. However, she stated that it was not "the legislative role to watch dog what they're doing on a day-to-day basis."
"When an applicant makes an application to the DRB, all the abutters are notified of that application and the hearing," said former Selectboard member Tom Consolino. "It is incumbent and has been historically, that any abutter come to the DRB hearing to establish they are an interested party by raising a question or having a comment. If they don't, they have no standing in terms of appeal. That's how the statute reads."
But Richter told the Reformer that she did not receive any notification of the DRB hearing. During the Selectboard meeting, board member Jim Burke suggested that the town send notices as registered mail to avoid these situations.
"We could consider it," said Murphy. "It's not required by law. We do publish it in the newspaper as well."
Selectboard member Diane Chapman asked if there would be heating in the winter if the issue isn't resolved.
"Right now, we don't," said Murphy. "If the hearing is reopened and the DRB changed its mind and refused our permit, which we already have, we'd have to look at a different location."
He stated that the basement could be reconsidered as a different location for the unit. The basement had been reviewed as a possible option in the design phase. But it was determined that having the unit in the basement could open the town up to future flood events, Murphy said.
"We could shut it down," he continued. "It's been shut down during the winter (in the past.)"
With a quilt show coming in the middle of the month, there had been some concern over the issue.
"We'd like to get other sources of heat," said Murphy.
Portable heaters would present a problem for the quilt show. The quilts should not be exposed to fumes from portable heating units, Haughwout pointed out.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.