Two commercial development issues drew more than 30 Chester residents to Town Hall Monday night, Sept. 26, as the Development Review Board attempted to address construction plans for each, both of which sit along Route 103 South.
The more contentious of the two, an expansion of Jack’s Diner, 521 Main St., would allow for seating of 96 as well as add a bar.
Two apartments would be built in the rear, above the expansion. With a building permit in hand, construction has already begun. But owner Jacques Dodier has not been given the required conditional-use permit and has not presented the DRB with site plans.
On Tuesday, zoning administrator Michael Normyle said he issued the building permit because the expanded footprint was within town regulations. However, Normyle added, “Because it was a substantial change, I told him he needed to come back for a conditional use permit.”
A conditional use is a is a purpose that is allowed under the town’s zoning regulations, but specific plans must be approved by the DRB. According to town zoning law, a property zoned residential-commercial must get a conditional-use permit for a multi-family dwelling.
MOUNTAIN VIEW RESIDENTS CONCERNED
Residents of the Mountain View community, which sits behind Jack’s Diner, are complaining about the project.
During Monday’s meeting, one questioned how the diner property could accommodate parking for employees, tenants and restaurant patrons as well as the necessary dumpsters.
Another, who lives directly behind the restaurant, said, “I don’t really want a bar there. I have two small children and there are other small children in the neighborhood.” She also presented photographs of flooding along her property, claiming that site work Dodier did on the property pushed dirt against a stone wall and gave the runoff no place to go.
DRB chairman Peter Hudkins replied, “We can’t help with the current water (problem), but we can prevent more.”
She also said Dodier “took out the trees. I used to look at the trees. Now I look at a diner. Soon I will be looking at a bar.” Her husband said, “I grew up in the house, been there since 1983. We never had problems like this until Jacques started working on the property.”
OWNER ASKED TO RETURN WITH PLANS
Dodier was told by Hudkins to return to the DRB on Oct. 24 with plans addressing elevation, parking, drainage, lighting, dumpster location and site layout, land contours and landscaping, a floor plan and a plan for a 1,000-gallon tank. In an August letter to the DRB, Jeff Holden, superintendent of Water/Sewer, suggested the use of the 1,000-gallon tank to accept oil and grease from the diner and replace the use of a grease trap.
The town’s wastewater treatment system has been having “huge” problems with grease and oils getting into it and, Holden wrote, “We … are currently testing the problem areas … and will be … requesting some businesses to do updates or to pay discharge violation fees.”
The issue was recessed until 7 p.m. Oct. 24. In the meantime, DRB members agreed to make a site visit of the Mountain View community to assess their concerns.
Dollar General Subdivision
Also Monday, the DRB recessed its hearing until Monday Oct. 10 on plans to subdivide the Zachary’s Pizza House property in preparation for sale of a 1+ acre parcel to the company that owns Dollar General stores. The project engineers needed to fix certain maps before the hearing could continue. The DRB then decided to hold the subdivision hearing just before the Dollar General conditional-use hearing. The DRB hearings begin at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, at Elm Street and Route 103.
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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.