Lawsuit pending, Jack’s Diner owner re-emerges to seek DRB OK

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Jack’s Diner construction in late December 2011. Chester Telegraph photo

Six years after Chester’s Development Review Board denied a conditional use permit for an expanded Jack’s Diner with apartments above it – and while the town of Chester is currently suing him for zoning violations – Jacques Dodier is back with a new application that will be the focus of a site visit and a hearing on Monday Aug. 28, 2017.

According to an application filed with town Zoning Administrator Michael Normyle, Dodier, who is being represented by Londonderry attorney Amanda L.S. George, is asking for approval of a 78-seat restaurant – including a bar that seats no more than 10 – and two three-bedroom apartments on the second floor. The earlier application called for 98 seats and two two-bedroom apartments.

The project has a troubled past. In 2011, Normyle gave Dodier a building permit to construct the addition to the original diner without going through hearings for the conditional use that would be needed for the project to open. At the time, Normyle said that he warned Dodier that he would need a conditional use permit to operate the business in addition to several state permits.

The new proposed site plan for Jack’s Diner and apartments submitted with the conditional use application includes parking for 42 cars. Dufresne Group drew up the plans.

Dodier began construction and his application for the conditional use permit was considered by the DRB in the fall of 2011. The DRB made several requests for information and drawings addressing elevation, parking, drainage, lighting, dumpster location and site layout, land contours and landscaping and a floor plan. But Dodier either produced incomplete documents or did not show up at hearings.

In a June 6, 2017 letter that accompanied the application, George wrote that she would act as an organizational agent to keep the project on track, including the necessary state permits.

On Tuesday Aug. 1, Assistant State Fire Marshall Landon Wheeler told The Telegraph that none of the state permits Dodier would need for the project have been applied for. Those would include permits for construction, electrical, plumbing, fire alarm, sprinkler, exhaust hood and hood fire suppression.

Dodier’s project as it appears today

“There’s no change in status,” said Wheeler. “He has filed no permits with the state.” Wheeler said that state permitting typically takes about 30 days and does not usually hold up the DRB process. “We notify the DRB that there is an application pending,” said Wheeler.

In November 2011, the DRB turned down Dodier’s application, but because he had a building permit issued by Normyle, he could continue construction. In January 2012, Wheeler issued a stop-work order on the expansion efforts. Wheeler said he issued the order after Dodier failed to comply with requests for plans detailing sprinkler and fire alarm systems as well as proof of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The project can only go so far without permits being in place to address life-safety issues,” Wheeler said at the time.

Dodier apparently worked with the fire marshal, because by fall 2013 the stop-work order was lifted and construction had resumed. Nevertheless, at the time, Wheeler said he was having trouble getting calls returned from Dodier. There was more work done on the building, but at some point in 2014, construction appeared to come to a halt.

Dodier was cited for zoning violations in September of 2016 and in April of this year the town filed suit against him in  Environmental Court. Judge Thomas Durkin has scheduled a conference in the case for Sept. 11 in Burlington.

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  1. KD says:

    Ugh! can this town look any more like a dump? People come to VT for the beauty. The Dollar Store, now Jack’s all-in-one emporium does not a beautiful place to visit or work make.

    No wonder property values stink.

  2. Nate Adams says:

    One word…UGLY, ugly and ugly! Should have left the original building alone, with improvements to the kitchen area only!

  3. Kathy says:

    If approved, will there be any conditions stipulating that tenants within a rental unit must be related?

    Can the septic handle an increase of two additional bedrooms (two 2 bedroom to two 3 bedroom units)

    Is there adequate parking for the restaurant and apartments at peak demand?