Road access issue stalls Jack’s Diner hearing

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The conditional use application for Jack’s Diner had its third but not quite final meeting before the Chester Development Review Board on Monday night. Attorney Amanda George told the board that the approval her client, Jacques Dodier, was expecting from the Agency of Transportation had not come and she asked for a continuance.

The Jack’s Diner property from the back Photos by Shawn Cunningham

The AOT regulates access points to state highways and has been trying to limit their number. George said that the department has accepted their application for a single access point and has unofficially said that Dodier’s plan “looks pretty good,” but have not issued an official decision.

George added that Dodier may have to pave the entrance. She also said that the person in charge of the decision has been out for an operation but she expected a decision in a week or so.

The access point could have an impact on the design of the parking layout and should be known before the town permit can go forward.

DRB chair Carla Westine was about to recess the hearing until Oct. 23 when Payne Junker and Elise Junker and Robert Parker – abutters who had not been at the Sept. 25 meeting – asked to be brought up to date on the drainage plan, which would affect both of their properties. The Junkers own 103 Artisans Gallery just to the east and Parker’s home sits above the diner to the south.

Payne Junker, left and Amanda George, center, listen as Bob Parker talks about the drainage issue on the Dodier property.

Westine said that the drainage plan put forward by Tim Knapp of Dufresne Group provides that none of the improvements will cause more water to leave the lot than it does now. She also noted that the water is coming from Mountain View across the Dodier property and that he has no control over it.

Board member Amy O’Neil told the Junkers that the water would be “sheeting” across the diner parking lot.

Payne Junker said that he hopes that the board will ensure that Dodier follows through with what he says he’s going to do. He noted that his main concern was that the building has been an eyesore and asked that the roof and exterior work be completed before moving on to the interior.

George acknowledged Junker’s remarks but did not say whether Dodier would do that.

Junker also asked for more robust conditions to be put in place to hold Dodier accountable for adhering to the permit and completing the work.

Westine told Junker that the Unified Development Bylaws required completion of the project within two years.

That may not be the case in this instance though, since Zoning Administrator Michael Normyle issued the building permit in 2011 and Dodier could argue that the zoning regulations in place at the time govern his  permit. Those zoning regulations, adopted in 2007, require that a project begin within two years of being issued, but do not say anything about completion.

While the permit process continues in Chester, a municipal enforcement suit against Dodier continues to move through the state’s Superior Court Environmental Division. There will be a conference on the matter on Monday Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. in front of Judge Thomas Durkin at the Costello Courthouse in Burlington.

In other business

Joe DiBernardo explains the Tomasso property subdivision.

Tucker Mulholland submitted documents estimating the noise level of equipment he uses at a welding shop in the Gold River Industrial Park, off Pleasant Street. Using the “inverse square rule,” Mulholland says that his grinders, welders and other equipment will come in under the 70dB level at the property line mandated in town regulations.

Board member Phil Perlah praised Mulholland’s presentation. The board closed the hearing, and now has 45 days to issue a decision.

Joe DiBernardo appeared on behalf of Chester Land LLC, which wants to subdivide 129.48 acres off Lover’s Lane into a 46.76 acre lot and a 82.72 acre lot. This is land owned by the Tomasso family, which is also selling more than 1,800 acres adjacent to this property to the New England Forestry Foundation if that organization is able to raise the $3.5 million asking price.

No one appeared from the abutters or the public to object to the subdivision, but Normyle noted that
one abutter had emailed and spoken with him on the phone to express misgivings about the NEFF purchase and the public use of the land. The neighbor questioned the effects including more traffic, parking problems, hunters mistaking her land for the Tomasso forest and security concerns.

Westine noted that the subdivision at hand was not related to the sale of the adjoining land. The board closed the preliminary plat review and scheduled the final plat review for Oct. 23.

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  1. joyce says:

    For 3.5 million dollars, the Tomasso family shouldn’t still have their name on it. I thought they were gonna GIVE it away.

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