WESTMINSTER - Approval from the District 2 Environmental Commission is all that stands between the owner of Durand Toyota and the commercial land improvement plan he has ready for his business.
Steve Durand, who bought the dealership in June 2005, met with commissioners at a public hearing at Butterfield Library on Friday and District 2 Coordinator April Hensel said they will issue a hearing recess memorandum this week before rendering its decision whether to grant an Act 250 permit. Hensel told the Reformer an Act 250 permit is needed when someone wants to improve land on a commercial property of more than 10 acres in a town that has both zoning and subdivision regulations, which Westminster does.
The public hearing was a quasi-judicial process and Durand was present with engineer Rick DeWolfe, DeWolfe assistant and architect Ed Clark to make his case. Commissioners Michael Bernhardt, Leslie Hanafin and Stephan Morse heard the plan and seemed receptive to what the guests had to say. They said they would be in touch with Durand.
After the public meeting ended, Durand explained to the Reformer what his plan is.
"It's an expansion to meet two things - one is car customers' needs and then the image program through Toyota, which requires me to increase the function of what they require for a dealership, for contract reasons," he said. "The external changes will be a 600-square-foot customer waiting area and then an 1,800-square-foot addition on the north side of building for the service area."
He said nothing will be changed in terms of exterior lighting. He told the Reformer he is optimistic about receiving the Act 250 permit, as all his other needed permits are in order.
"I thought (the commissioners) were very cooperative and very helpful," he said, adding that there will be another public hearing if the permit is denied. "The commission seems to have every intent to want to approve this."
Durand said he is a third generation car businessman and owns another dealership in Hudson that has been in his family since 1949.
He said his Westminster dealership was recently the victim of crime, as tires were stolen off five vehicles, which were left resting on milk crates. He said he noticed the missing tires - which will cost him a minimum of $3,500 per vehicle - when he showed up for work on Saturday, Oct. 12. He said he immediately contacted the Vermont State Police but did not have an update over the weekend.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.