By Juliann Phelps

The Town of Charlotte, VT

Charlotte Family Health Center considering move to West Village commercial district

The Jan. 3 Planning Commission meeting focused primarily on the Mason–Von Trapp sketch plan agenda item, with Chair Peter Joslin opening with an explanation of the intent of the sketch plan discussion: to listen to the ideas put forth by the applicants with a resulting recommendation from the commission.

After nearly two hours of discussion from various meeting attendees, the commission scheduled a follow-up site visit and will include the item on a future agenda in February.

The Mason–Von Trapp sketch plan discussion centered on the application landowner Benjamin Mason and his realtor Chris Von Trapp of Coldwell Banker have submitted to the commission. They are seeking to create a one-acre lot in the village commercial district, behind the Charlotte Children’s Center, by subdividing it from Mason’s 37.7-acre property. Mason’s property has 106.7 feet of road frontage on Ferry Road, located between the fire station and the Charlotte Children’s Center, and would include a right of way to the proposed one-acre lot.

The interested purchasers in attendance were Charlotte Health Center physician Dr. Andrea Regan and Evergreen Family Health physician Dr. Paul Reiss. They are scoping plans to build a new health center on the potentially subdivided lot, as well as including additional parking for other town organizations. Approximately 10 people were in attendance, representing several interested parties, including the Charlotte Health Center, CVFRS and residents of Greenbush Road.

Von Trapp opened the discussion by going over the proposed map. Mason continued, noting: “We would like to accommodate the doctor’s need to be in town.” Planning Commissioner Marty Illick was the first to recommend a follow-up site visit, saying, “This is a parcel to pay good attention to, and the town would want to participate.” The discussion continued, with several other designs presented, one with the health center behind the Charlotte Children’s Center and one with the proposed health center on Ferry Road. Several commissioners asked about setbacks and the right of way currently deeded on the property. Commissioner Eastman raised a concern about how the health center would fit on the available road frontage.

Other issues raised during the sketch plan discussion were the proximity and shared access with the fire station as well as water and septic. CVFRS Board President Tom Cosinuke expressed concern about the right of way and its proximity to the fire department entrance. Fire Chief Dick St. George said, “Sharing the road with emergency vehicles and volunteers that come in quickly…would be an unusual marriage if you will.”  The discussion moved on to wells and septic, with Regan saying the proposed lot would have its own drilled well and share septic with the Charlotte Children’s Center, which is putting in a new mound system. Greenbush Road resident Ronda Moore raised concern about the groundwater supply on the road, asking the Planning Commission to look at establishing a water district, saying “This is a real issue, we can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

The common theme was the repeated concerns from both Mason and Regan that whatever design is agreed upon be amenable to all parties. “If I lose five patients over this, it’s a bad business deal,” said Regan. “It’s not my job to get into politics.” After discussion on senior housing, other potential access points to Mason’s property and parking, the Planning Commission decided on a follow-up site visit on Jan. 5 and motioned to continue the sketch plan review, moving it to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.

In other business, the commission had a brief discussion on the proposed subdivision in the east village, with Commissioner Joslin recommending they consider seeking municipal planning grant money. He also asked Town Planner Daryl Benoit to put together a draft scope of work to potentially have an outside resource brought in to assist with master planning. The commission proposed two meeting dates for future discussion.