Wilmington business denied approval for boardwalk


WILMINGTON -- The Development Review Board denied Isabelle Alvarado's request to construct a boardwalk similar to neighboring business, Pickwell's Barn.

Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy had written a letter to the DRB on behalf of the town that mostly expressed concern over snowplowing but also traffic flow.

"It's a very narrow driveway. We have a wooden boardwalk on one side now. As you plow the snow, there's not much room from where the driveway ends and the outcrops of her building begins," he said. "It wouldn't be feasible to remove snow efficiently."

Alvarado is in the process of renovating and restoring the 20 West Main Street building, formerly known as Fennessy's, where she plans to offer food products made in Vermont as well as a community gathering space. One of her blog posts from May said, "When we open we will be the perfect stop at the Village Roost for hikers, bikers, canoers and leaf gazers ... Can't wait!"

Wilmington Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk confirmed that Village Roost will be the name of the new business. Havreluk also told the Reformer that Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson met with the managers of the business, Alvarado's daughter and son-in-law, and spoke about how a boardwalk may still be possible to consider.

"There could be a potential work around of building to grade," Havreluk said. "If you build to grade and if it's level to the ground, it might work better than above grade. Then the plow won't be hitting it."

The standards in keeping with the historic district will be another obstacle for Alvarado. The board did not approve of the style or character of the west side entrance proposed in the local permit application "as that style is not found to be of character in the existing structure."

"New construction or renovations should be of similar historic architectural style to that found within the subject building," the decision also stated.

Alvarado will return for a third hearing but still plans to open mid- to late-summer. Havreluk said the DRB wants to work with property owners.

"The board would like to encourage a style more in keeping with existing architectural details in subject building," stated the decision. "The revised plan shall consider pedestrian traffic to the parking lot so that people will not have to navigate new stairs."

The proposed windows, door changes and handicap ramp access as outlined in the application were approved. That approval will expire in two years from when the decision was signed on June 6.

Alvarado will be the first to benefit from the town's new tax stabilization policy. An agreement is currently being drafted. The policy will take effect on April 1 after it is signed.

Alvarado will gradually be taxed more each year as the policy, approved at Town Meeting, allows new businesses to start off paying a reduced tax rate. Over a five-year span, the rate increases by 20 percent annually until the business is taxed at full value. The policy does not apply to state taxes.

The DRB continues looking to fill its two open full-time seats. The alternates, Paul Tonon, Meg Streeter and Fred Houston are taking turns filling in until then.

"They know until those other two seats are filled, they are going to be regularly on the decisions because we like to have five people to keep the size greater than three," said DRB member Wendy Manners. "So they've agreed to play a pretty active role until we fill the other two positions."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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