By Mara Brooks, Editor

In a unanimous vote, the Planning Commission (PC) conditionally approved the final site plan submitted by the Vermont Commons School (VCS) to build an outdoor education center at 2369 Spear Street, but forest and wetlands on the 53-acre parcel must remain untouched, the July 29 decision read.

When VCS’s application was submitted last November, the zoning administrator determined it required a site plan review and a conditional use review. The VCS pursued the site plan review first with an understanding that the conditional use review and ZBA approval would be required.

The PC told applicants they must submit a note confirming forest and wetlands on the property will remain in their natural state and protected as Significant Forest and Aquatic Habitat. Approved trails and other alterations will be allowed but the PC prohibited the use of fences around the property’s boundaries to preserve wildlife connectivity. Signage and paint blazes will instead be used to mark boundaries and to remind students and staff to respect neighbors’ privacy. Additional hedgerow plantings will also be required.

VCS must obtain conditional use approval from the ZBA prior to applying for zoning permits or commencing any site preparation, the decision said.