WILMINGTON -- Development Review Board alternate member Meg Streeter recused herself from Monday's hearing after she believed she had ex parte communication last week with a party involved in an application regarding a proposed inn at 1, 3 and 5 East Main Street.
"After thinking about it, I didn't want to give the appearance to the board of having a conflict of interest," said Streeter, who owns a real estate company with an office around the corner from the property.
DRB hearings are considered quasi-judicial and to ensure due process, board members are expected to avoid conflicts of interest. Contacts outside of a public hearing can affect a board member's decision, a Vermont League of Cities and Towns document stated.
Without Streeter's participation, the board had no quorum. It rescheduled the hearing until next Monday, July 14, when DRB member Wendy Manners is expected to be back.
This hearing was recessed in May and it involves property owners Lorista Holdings LLC and Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Co, LLC. The board wanted more details for the project regarding historic criteria. A potential parking plan for behind the buildings was also unveiled as a work in progress during the hearing before it was recessed.
The application was made for flood hazard historic district review to allow attachment of properties and change the use of the properties to an inn and retail store. It also seeks permission to install new windows and an elevator as well as remove the roof of the 3 East Main Street building to utilize the third floor.
Michael Riccio previously represented Lorista Holdings LLC and the Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Co., when permission was received from the DRB to install new windows and a handicap ramp at 15 West Main Street, formerly known as the Vermont House. The board also allowed for the change of the property's use to an inn.
According to the DRB decision signed on May 16, Riccio proposed to renovate the interior and exterior of the building to accommodate two handicap guest rooms on the first floor, four guest rooms each on the second and third floor as well as an inn keeper's apartment on the fourth floor.
The latest application for the buildings located on East Main Street, across the street from the Town Offices, will be heard a week before Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Co.comes in with an application to replace the Barnstormer ski lift to the summit of Haystack.
"We will have quorum," said DRB Chairman Peter Wallace. "We will be able to move forward."
Having to cancel meetings due to lack of quorum was a concern that the Selectboard had when it interviewed former member Andy Schindel. The Selectboard chose to appoint him as an alternate rather than a regular member. This resulted in Schindel not accepting the position as well as three resignations from former DRB members.
Sybil Idelkope was introduced as the newest regular member of the DRB on Monday. She was appointed by the Selectboard on July 2. Her term expires in 2017.
"She's been on the board before. She was on for a year or a year and half before," said Town Manager Scott Murphy. "She can hit the ground running."
In the past, the DRB has noted difficulties in finding regular members. Three alternates were appointed in recent months, taking turns filling in.
"(The alternates) are going to be regularly on the decisions because we like to have five people to keep the size greater than three," Manners said last month.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.