Charlotte Health Center woes: group appeal moves forward, neighbors file second appeal

As group petitioners move forward, the Kaczka-Villieres file an action of their own

A group of 20 petitioners opposing Emerald Green Properties’ Charlotte Family Health Center filed a Statement of Questions with the Chittenden County Superior Court on September 2. The filing asks the court to determine whether the health center complied with the town’s land use and development regulations regarding wetlands and associated buffer and setback areas. Petitioners also asked if the health center complied with the town’s stormwater management and erosion control standards.

The petitioners, led by former Zoning Board member Ronda Moore, have appealed the Planning Commission’s July 29 approval of the health care center. They argued the proposed site at 251 Ferry Road is a protected wetlands area and building there would violate Charlotte’s land use regulations.

The petitioners’ appeal was filed on August 16 by attorney Jon Anderson of Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer. The town is represented by Stitzel, Page & Fletcher attorney Joseph S. McLean.

On August 27, neighbors Rene and Jeanne Kaczka-Valliere filed a second appeal on their own behalf. The couple, whose property adjoins the proposed health center, is representing themselves.

The Kaczka-Vallieres previously spoke to The News about their concerns that noise, traffic and light pollution generated by the health center would intrude on their quiet enjoyment of their property.

Attorney Michael Russell, who represents the health center, has argued that the site was previously developed and already contains an existing building and a set of man-made ditches.

During the health center’s application process, independent consultant Dorie Barton, who was hired by the health center, and the state’s wetlands specialist from the Agency of National Resources, concluded the site contained only low-quality wetlands and was safe to build on.

In an interview with The News last month, Town Planner Larry Lewack said that the town relied on the expertise of Barton and the state’s wetland specialist when deciding whether to approve the health center’s application. Lewack admitted the town had struggled to interpret the land use regulations regarding building in wetland areas.

“In one place the regulations say no building of any kind on wetland buffers, but in another place, it says if you have a detailed assessment by an independent expert, and the state issues a permit allowing the encroachment, the Planning Commission can go along with that,” Lewack said at the time.

Now it is up to the court to decide if the town was right in its interpretation.

Group petitioners’ leader Ronda Moore resigned from the Zoning Board on July 28 following accusations by ZBA Chair Lane Morrison that Moore failed to disclose an alleged conflict of interest with the Charlotte Health Center.