DRB holds second and final hearing on tree clearing on Shelburne Point

By Carol Casey

At its Sept. 16 meeting, the Development Review Board considered an application by Jeff Jackson for approval of a setback cutting plan on Shelburne Point. An initial hearing was held on Aug. 17 and at that time, Jackson was asked to provide additional information, which he did submit, including letters from Carolyn Orben, a registered landscape architect with WagnerHodgson Landscape Architecture, William De Vos, a registered consulting arborist and certified horticulturist with Tree Works Tree Preservation, and Stephen Vock, project engineer with Civil Engineering Associates. All three commented, at length, on Jackson’s cutting plan. DRB member Jeff Hodgson recused himself from deliberations because a member of the firm with which he is associated had submitted one of the letters.

Several members of Shelburne’s Natural Resources and Conservation Committee appeared at the hearing to offer comments. Commission Chair Gail Albert reported that she had done a site walk the previous day with Jackson and Kevin Burke of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.  She agreed with Jackson’s plan to remove severely damaged overhanging trees along the shoreline, but perhaps not others he had identified. Albert noted some areas of the property are open, rather than dense woods, so that many dead or dying trees in those areas would not negatively impact healthy trees should they fall.

Another NRC member, Susan Moegenburg, a forest ecologist, agreed with cutting overhanging trees on the cliff sides and recommended letting woody vegetation in this area be allowed to build up to impede further erosion. She also advocated leaving some of the small dead and dying trees on the shoreline because they provide important wildlife habitats, such as for roosting bats.

Both Orben and De Vos had essentially promoted the same plan, adding that invasive species, such as European buckthorn and honeysuckle, be removed to encourage the growth of native species which are currently being choked out by the invasive species. Another NRC member suggested the DRB ask for an independent review by a specialist to identify tree by tree, species by species, those that Jackson proposes to cut. Jackson replied that he had submitted a complete list of all trees to be removed and had marked each of them on the property for the experts to review.

Shelburne resident Dan Couture expressed concern about the visual impact on the shoreline that the cutting plan would create when viewed from Lake Champlain.

After hearing the testimony, the DRB voted to close the hearing and will issue its decision within 45 days.

In other business, the DRB approved:

• A Design Review Application by Craig Anderson and Renee Couture for a new mobile home in Shelburnewood Mobile Home Park. The application had previously been approved with a minor change in the rear step heights by the Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission.

• A Subdivision Sketch Plan Application field by Yitzhak and Patricia Bezalel for subdividing their 17-acre property at 646 Barstow Road into three lots and directed them to prepare a Final Plan for the DRB’s consideration.

• DRB Chair Mark Sammut acknowledged Annie Geratowski’s resignation as Shelburne DRB Administrator, stating that the commission appreciated her hard work and that she will be greatly missed. Geratowski is leaving on Sept. 25 to become the DRB Coordinator in Hinesburg.  Sammutt also welcomed Jeff McBride as a newly appointed alternate on the DRB.

The next meeting of the Development Review Board is scheduled to be held in the Municipal Center at 7pm on Oct. 7.

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