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Meeting Minutes - ZBA

Town of Leicester

 Zoning Board of Adjustment Minutes

Tuesday, June 30, 2009




** See subsequent minutes for any changes


Members Present:  Jeff McDonough, Donna Swinington, Shelley Glassner, Tim Johnson, Pete Fjeld


Members Absent:   Gerry Flint


Others Present:   Kate Briggs, ZA,  Sandra Trombley, Secretary, Zachary Colander, David & Patrice Colander, Glen Peck, Lynne Peck


Call to Order:  Meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustment was called to order at 6:13 p.m. by acting Chair, Donna Swinington; and roll call. 


Donna asks Jeff McDonough to tell the Board a little bit about himself as a new alternate.  He stated that he owns a National Insurance Brokerage in Middlebury, almost retired, his son owns it.  He’s on the Board of Directors of the Federal Credit Union.  Past president of Middlebury Co-Op Credit Union.  He still travels a little bit for business and plays golf.


Shelley presented her letter of resignation from the ZBA and PC effective June 30, 2009.


Kate asked Shelley to send the forms to her for some minor changes.  Kate stated that it has become clear that they need a totally separate application to do driveways.  They often do not accompany permit applications.  They do for new construction or subdivision, but not for just a driveway.  They need to go to the Road Foreman first and then to the Selectboard and bring in the State.  It’s not really a zoning problem primarily.  Kate said that there should be a separate application and we need to let people know that. 


Kate stated that the Brandon Zoning Administrator called her to let her know that on July 8th, the Vermont League is having a training session for Zoning Administrators.  Kate would like to go.  That is the date for our PC Meeting. 


Action:  Reschedule PC Meeting to July 15, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.


Tim asked Kate how is having a separate application for driveway permits going to make people come in and get it?


Kate answered that she thinks the Town is going to adopt an ordinance saying they have to do this and warn it.


Tim stated that it is already here and has been warned in public minutes before.  He said it has been on the application for a couple years. 


Kate stated that if you read it, it doesn’t really tell people what to do.  It’s an after the fact thing.  It’s not an application per say. 


Shelley stated that it’s in the book.  Kate said we talk about certain aspects of the driveway; we don’t talk about the environmental state issues about the driveway.  We talk about what we would consider to be a reasonable driveway.


Tim felt that it seemed like we want to put too much into it.  This here to me, and what we have in the zoning book, covers driveway issues.  If someone is building down around the lake where it is an environmental issue, just like when we give someone a variance and they have to get state approval, we tell them that state approval is needed.  He stated that to him, it seems like we are reinventing the wheel for something we already have in place and all you have to tell people is,   if you are down around the lake and you think there is an environmental impact, the state will have to be involved with it, when you issue them the permit.


Kate stated they don’t apply for a permit, they just do it.  We have a serious instance of someone just doing it. 


Tim stated that we have the regulations and the application form now, and he doesn’t see how making up a separate application form is going to solve the problem.  People are still not going to come in and get the permits. 


Kate stated that we are going to do two things.  We are going to put it on the Town’s web-site and we are going to publicize it when we send out the thing in general about zoning permits when we send out the tax bills.  There’s two ways of letting people know the driveway issue is a separate issue.  People buy these very hilly properties, especially off the Hooker Road, which never had driveways and are now putting in driveways.  They are causing major problems.  It’s happened in the past and recently.  There is really no clear cut requirement that they get a permit.  There’s no permit for that, there’s a language.


Tim stated that it states in the regulations that they are supposed to do this. 


Shelley read ‘any activity for which a zoning permit is required’.  Kate stated ‘for which a zoning permit is required’.  All they are doing is a driveway.  That’s the whole point.  They say they are not doing anything, no zoning activity is happening.  They say they are just putting in a driveway.  This is a major problem for the Town.  It’s happened several times now.  No one has a problem with it when it’s new construction; it’s when they just do a driveway.  These places never had driveways before because it was clearly a bad idea to have a driveway.  Kate thinks it’s something the Selectboard is concerned about.  It’s just a suggestion that we have a clear process what they need to do, regardless of any other zoning issues.


Tim stated that he hopes the Selectboard is aware that we already have this in place right now.  The problem is that it isn’t being used.  It’s not the fact that the Town doesn’t have it, we have it in Section 621 of our book, we have zoning laws on driveways. 


Kate stated that we address some issues, we don’t address all issues.  There’s a difference between having some general requirement or general guidelines for doing something and setting up a specific procedure.   The only aspect of our zoning that involves the road foreman or road commissioner, depending on the town, is the driveway, nothing else.  That’s the only thing; as well as the Selectboard; on subdivisions, but no other zoning things are they involved in.


Tim stated that the Selectboard shouldn’t be.  That’s what the ZBA is for. 


Kate stated, but they are.  Look on the back of the application.  They are involved in it because it’s an expense to the Town.  It’s an on-going issue if the driveway creates run-off, etc. 


Kate said she’s just sort of presenting this.  Regardless how it’s done, there needs to be something that says, if you are going to be doing a driveway, you need to have somebody take a look at this before you do it. 


But who, Tim asked?


Kate said the Road Commissioner, and then bring in the State people. 


Tim said that he thinks we better be careful what we wish for, and bringing in the State for everything. 


Donna stated that this should be something for the Selectboard to enforce and nothing to do with the ZBA.


Kate stated she doesn’t think it’s a zoning application, but it’s an application to the Town.


Shelley stated that it doesn’t have anything to do with the ZBA, so we don’t even need to discuss it.


Pete stated that the way he would read this is, if they are going to apply for zoning, and they are going to be constructing a driveway, they need to show us the access permit from the Selectboard prior to the issuance of the zoning permit. 


Kate stated that the point is, there is no procedure for that.  People have just been ignoring it. 


Pete stated that we can solve it.  When anyone comes for a permit we can just say “no” if they don’t have their access permit from the Selectboard.


Kate stated that she is just the conduit of information for zoning.  I tell people about the need for State permits.  The way that this is piggy backed on the back of the zoning, is really not correct because it’s not primarily a zoning issue.  The only reason she is bringing it up is that this is an example of something we might want to revisit in terms of the permitting process.   She thinks it’s confusing to people when they see it on the back of the zoning permit.  It’s a separate issue.


Shelley stated that it’s a Road Commissioner issue.  It clearly states additional approvals required which has nothing to do with the ZBA.


Donna stated that the Selectmen will need to put out some public notice about driveway permits. 


Kate stated, the Selectboard is aware of that.


Kate mentioned the situation with Jeff Smith’s driveway.


Action:  Shelley will email Kate the ZBA forms for minor revisions.


Tim asked what will happen with the forms that Shelley is emailing to Kate and Kate is tweaking?  Do they have to go to the Selectboard?


Donna explained that they will come to us first for review.  The Selectboard has already given us approval to use them.  They want us to start using them right away. 


Kate stated it’s primarily a Planning Commission function to approve changes in forms and procedures.  Kate would like to see more information on the web-site so that people can go to it and see that they do need to apply, how they should apply, and when they should apply because there is an awful lot of non-applying out there.


Pete commented that the procedures are very confusing in Vermont.  Every town is different. 


Tim stated the out-of-state people need to know the Town’s regulations before they begin.


Donna stated that we are here to help the people of the Town, not hinder them. 


Tim asked Kate, before the Colander applicant came in, why it was referred to the ZBA.  Kate explained that it was non-conforming, and any change to the property has to go to the ZBA.  They want to build a garage very close to their property line.  It’s an extremely small lot.  They also want permission to convert their seasonal cottage to a year round cottage.  They understand that they need to get the State permits as well. 


Kate took photographs for the Board to review.  The Board reviewed the photographs.


Donna swore in the applicant and other interested parties.  Donna asked Zachary to explain what the project is all about.


Zachary explained that he plans to build a 24’ x 24’ two car garage as indicated on the plan.  That’s the main thing that they are changing.  Down at the existing house, they will have the same footprint and it will have attic space. 


Kate made a site visit.  It’s a very small, narrow lot.   The garage is placed in the only place you can place a garage.  They want a garage because they are converting it to year round use.  The house will be on the same footprint and the height of the house will not change.  They will tear down the current house. 


Donna asked if we heard from any of the adjoining landowners. 


Zachary spoke with Bill Finger a couple of days ago.  Mr. Finger just asked him what he was doing.  He was going over again, but Mr. Finger was not there.


Nothing from Fletcher Proctor, the other adjoining property owner. 


Donna commented by looking at the photos of the big rock, this is the only location you can put a 24’ x 24’ garage on the property.


Pete asked if they had done the septic design yet.  They had Brad Ramsey come up and look at it.  They think they know generally where the septic tank and leach field is, but people before have not done anything with it.  They stated that Brad said that looking at the property and knowing the land around it, that he didn’t think there would be a problem getting State approval for the septic system based on where they drew it on the map with the well far up beyond.  Brad asked them to get approval from the Board contingent on State approval.  Brad didn’t want to come down until they had actually gone to the ZBA.


Donna stated that the bottom line with the ZBA is that you must meet all the State requirements.


Kate asked the question that she thought there couldn’t be any part of a septic within 50 feet of the lake.  Tim stated that this was probably grandfathered because it’s an old one, but that a new one could not be.


Just for clarification, Tim asked the size of the existing house.


They thought it was 26 ½’ x 31 ½’.  It will be the same size as the existing house. 


There were no other questions from the Board.


Glenn and Lynne Peck arrived.  They did not want to give testimony.  They stated they were neighbors down the road and they just wanted to listen to what the Board had to say about what they wanted to do.  They apologized for being late.


Patrice brought them up-to-date with their plan.


Donna stated that if there are no more questions, and all questions have been answered, they will proceed with the Findings of Fact.








1.  The hardship is due to the unique physical characteristics peculiar to the particular property.

·        All voted yes

2.  Because of such physical conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformance with the zoning regulations.

·        All voted yes

3.  The hardship has not been created by the applicant.

·        All voted yes

4.  The variance, if authorized, will not adversely affect the character of the surrounding area, the use of adjoining property, or the public welfare.

·        All voted yes

5.  The variance is the minimum necessary to grant relief.

·        All voted yes


The building permit was granted to Zachary Colander.  The Board explained that it should be posted in a visible location when they begin construction.   It clearly explains that they are building on an approved permit.  The Board provided two permits to them so they could post one on the lake side and one on the other side.  A copy of the approved zoning permit was provided to Zachary.  Paperwork was gathered for the Secretary.


No Old Business.


Motion to adjourn by Shelley.  Seconded by Tim.  So approved.  All in favor.


Adjourned at 6:55 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Sandra L. Trombley

ZBA Secretary