Do commercial vehicles belong to a residential area? Third DRB meeting fixed on Pownal zoning authorization application | Local news

POWNAL – Whether businesses can be licensed under Pownal’s zoning in a rural residential district is at the center of a controversy involving John Babson’s proposal for a South Stream Road lot.

During two previous city development review board meetings, Babson has sought approval for the construction of a log house and for the activities he manages that involve logging and solid waste transportation.

The operations are based in his office on Gage Street in Bennington, he said Friday. His intention is to store trucks, log skidding tools, dumpsters, trash containers and other equipment on the Pownal property at 2853 South Stream Road.


Despite meetings in March and April, the council has not yet voted on the proposal, which has sparked a long debate and numerous questions and concerns from residents. However, council members discussed approving a variation for proposed commercial use in a residential area.

Among those who recorded strong objections during those meetings was real estate agent Paul Harsch, who represents a neighbor of the site who is trying to sell his property.

Harsch said this week that the city could face a court appeal if a variation to Babson’s property is granted. He said his client, Deborah Eaton, of 2090 Maple Grove Road, detained a lawyer who plans to attend the next DRB meeting on Babson’s application, set for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“This is quite unusual for me to have to intervene at this level,” Harsch said in an email. “But I am very concerned that the very new members of the board of directors of the DRB have gone in a very worrying direction, entertaining the granting of a permit for a use that is not explicitly allowed in the [rural residential] district where Ms. Eaton’s property and the applicant’s adjacent property are located.

He added that the council and zoning administrator Michael Gardner “appear to remain determined to bend and even ignore the statute to grant permission to the individual applicant. Their reasoning is also troubling, that there are other cases scattered around the city where in recent years a small contractor could keep his equipment at home, for example, so they think that would justify giving an example here too, completely ignoring the impact of this line of thinking spanned the entire city.

Neither the zoning administrator nor Gardner were contacted Friday for comment.


In the board meeting minutes for previous sessions, a 2008 decision is discussed allowing a former owner’s application for a home and garage on the same property.

Harsch argued, however, that “The“ proposed use ”in the permit clearly indicates“ residential. ”There is no mention in the permit application or approved permit that the property’s intended use was for commercial purposes.

He added: “The DRB suggested that they would allow the continuation of commercial use for the property. This is false and misleading. Previous use was residential, and the owner’s occasional practice of keeping a construction vehicle on site was not permitted in the permit and would not have been permitted by law. If such use has occurred, it has not been noticed by the city authorities or has not been paid attention if no complaints have been filed.

Reached by phone on Friday, Babson claimed he had owned the package for about two years, but there were no complaints until he filed an application for a permit for commercial use.

Referring to his intention to store vehicles on the property, he said it would be similar to other sites in the city where commercial vehicles are stored on a property. He added that an auto company previously operated on the package he now owns, although he is not sure if a permit has been issued.

For Harsch, a key question is whether the city is applying its zoning regulations consistently.

“The members of the city of Pownal DRB have a legal obligation to reasonably and consistently enforce the existing statute for the benefit of all citizens of the city, present and future,” he said. “The fact that the DRB grants, let alone entertain, an application for non-compliant use, goes against reason and law. If this or other similar permits are granted, this essentially removes all protections that owners have the right to rely on permitted uses and uses not permitted anywhere in the city. “

Referring to his role in attempting to market Eaton’s house, Harsch said he “missed a big sales opportunity because of Mr. Babson’s property,” arguing that any adjacent property “would be nearly impossible to sell” if you get the permission required.

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