FERRISBURGH - Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division has approved a segment of Champlain Oil Company's proposal for a convenience store and service center located at 2822 U.S. Route 7 in Ferrisburgh. But the project still faces an uphill battle.
A group of vocal residents-known as "Friends of Ferrisburgh for Responsible Growth"-continue to oppose the project. They claim the proposed store violates local zoning laws; they also claim the store is "out of scale" with the community. And after last week's court's ruling, the group's efforts to stop the project appear to be vindicated.
While the court decision by Judge Thomas Durkin approved part of the project plan, it still leaves it mostly in
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"We conclude that the applicant's proposed retail store is permitted in the HC District, whether or not it is also a convenience store, and that the applicant's proposed drive-in facility is allowed as part of a restaurant that is permitted in the HC District. Cross appellants' motion for summary judgement on these issues is therefore denied," wrote Durkin in the judgement order filed July 16. "...We conclude that (the) applicant's proposed project, as currently configured, cannot receive conditional use approval as a matter of law."
In plain language, Durkin's judgement read that the retail store and a drive-up window component are permitted-since drive-up restaurant windows are allowed within Ferrisburgh's commercial district. However, Durkin did not approve the balance of the project.
The proposed nine-acre Champlain Oil site has presented the town with problems because it straddles both Ferrisburgh's highway commercial zone and conservation district. The oil company plans to purchase of 6.5 acres from one current owner and 2.5 acres from a second owner. Because a 25-acre minimum lot footprint is needed within the town's conservation district, the project faces an uphill battle.
Judge Durkin's ruling read that, (the) Applicant's proposed project, as currently configured, cannot receive conditional use approval as a matter of law.
Durkin also wrote that "in closing... the town is not prohibiting (the) applicant from locating a wastewater system off-lot, which applicant contends is prohibited... Based on the foregoing, we conclude that (the) applicant may not proceed with the proposed land development in the Conservation District because the to-be created lot does not conform to the minimum size requirements for that district."
Champlain Oil Co. may appeal the decision but a decision was not available at press time.