Request for planning and zoning fee reimbursement denied

When Scott Hardy of New Haven wanted to subdivide a 10-acre parcel of land on Mt. Philo Road into two five-acre lots, he applied for the proper permits, and the Planning Commission approved it in 2015. But Hardy neglected to file an important document within the required 180 days and had to pay the $1,200 subdivision fee a second time for an identical plat.

A plat is a plan or map of a proposed subdivision. The subdivision fee covers the work of the Planning Commission as well as the town clerk. According to Vermont law, “The approval of the appropriate municipal panel shall expire 180 days from that approval or certification unless, within that 180-day period, that plat shall have been duly filed or recorded in the office of the clerk of the municipality.”

Charlotte Land Use and Development Regulations also states that the applicant has 180 days to file their plat.

Hardy asked to be reimbursed for the planning and zoning fee he had to pay a second time, arguing that miscommunication was an obstacle to meeting the original deadline. At a Selectboard meeting on June 12 there was confusion about when Jeannine McCrumb, the town planner during the time of Hardy’s original plat submission, had ceased working for the town. Her departure caused a lapse in coverage of the position and perhaps a subsequent lack of communication with Hardy about the plat.

Town Planner Daryl Benoit said McCrumb’s tenure was irrelevant to the circumstances. He also said that, in March, Hardy had claimed in an email that he had no decision in his records and was wondering if the town had ever sent it to him. “We went through the records and found a copy of a certified mail slip confirming his receipt of the decision with his signature,” Benoit said. “This may exemplify the reasoning behind the State’s requirement to send decisions to the applicant by certified mail.”

When asked if there was a town policy on reimbursing fees, Benoit said, “It’s entirely up to the Selectboard, but it is a state law to file a plat in 180 days.”

On June 26, a second Charlotte Selectboard meeting heard Hardy’s reimbursement request. Hardy reiterated what he said in the previous meeting, which was that it was a mistake and that both plats submitted and paid for were identical. Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz did not want to shift the applicant’s responsibility to the town. The concern was that if the application fee was refunded it would create complications and establish a precedent for similar cases.

A motion to refund part of Hardy’s second planning and zoning fee and keep $200 for clerical fees and time was voted on and failed; therefore Hardy will not be receiving a refund. Hardy declined to comment on the Selectboard’s decision.

Both of Hardy’s lots are for sale at this time. Recently a prospective buyer applied for permits to turn an old barn on one of the lots into a wedding event space. That was ultimately denied. Hardy said he is looking for creative solutions to save the old barn and is open to ideas.

Morgan Magoon is a Charlotte resident and a 2016 CVU graduate. She is currently a student at the University of Rhode Island where she is a communications major and is thinking about pursuing writing and/or gender studies as a minor. She loves writing and spends her time reading and sketching. She is also passionate about physical fitness. Morgan wants to gain experience as a writer to aid her in her studies and strengthen her voice as a journalist.