By Cynthia Prairie
The Chester Development Review Board has denied a conditional use permit for the expansion of Jack’s Diner, 521 Main St. Town zoning administrator Michael Normyle said the permit was denied in late November on the grounds that Dodier “missed several hearings and has not been responsive, has not provided the requested information to date.”
In late September, the DRB had asked owner Jacques Dodier to return to the DRB in a month with plans addressing elevation, parking, drainage, lighting, dumpster location and site layout, land contours and landscaping, a floor plan and a plan for a 1,000-gallon tank.
Dodier received notice of the decision in a registered letter dated Dec. 6, Normyle said. Last summer, Dodier had attempted to take advantage of the closing and reconstruction of two bridges to renovate his popular diner and undertake a reconstruction project. He had received a building permit from the town but was told that any additional and new uses would require him to obtain a conditional use permit, Normyle said.
A conditional use is a purpose that is allowed under the town’s zoning regulations, but specific plans must be approved by the DRB. According to town zoning law, a property zoned residential-commercial must get a conditional-use permit for a multi-family dwelling.
Dodier was hoping to add a bar area plus two apartments.
Neighboring residents and business owners have expressed concerns about the project: the new bar and possible expanded hours of operation; the height and style of the addition; and drainage.
Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Dec. 28, Dodier said that he will continue to build and would like to reopen. He added that he was not sure what his standing is with the town.
Normyle said that since Dodier does have the building permit, he can continue to build. But, he added that because of the significant changes to the building, Dodier will also be unable to reopen the diner even for its original use.
“He can finish building the building but cannot run his business because he has gone from a small diner to a much larger restaurant with a bar and apartments,” Normyle said.
To reopen, Normyle said, Dodier will have to return to the DRB to obtain an approved conditional use permit. “The ball is in Dodier’s court,” Normyle said, adding there are a couple of state permits he must get as well.
When asked whether the town will consider changing the process of allowing building permits to be issued before conditional use permits, Normyle replied, “This was a unique situation and I can assure you that the zoning administrator has learned his lesson and will not be issuing another building permit before a conditional use permit.”
Filed Under: Business & Personal Finance
About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.