Champlain Housing Trust cited for failure to obtain zoning permit for Harbor Place

Harbor Place Property Manager Dan Mendl prepares a room for a family with children at the shelter on June 17. Photo by Lynn Monty
Harbor Place Property Manager Dan Mendl prepares a room for a family with children at the shelter on June 17. Photo by Lynn Monty

In a letter dated Sept. 24, Joe Colangelo, acting in his capacity as Town Manager and Zoning Enforcement Officer, notified Michael Monte, the Chief Operating and Financial Officer of the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), that CHT “has commenced land development, specifically the change and/or addition of a use, to the existing hotel/motel use on the 3164 Shelburne Road property without first obtaining a zoning permit.”

Colangelo stated that the letter “is an attempt to obtain voluntary compliance through either applying for a permit for the new or changed use(s) on the property, or discontinuing the use(s) in question.” He asked that CHT respond by Oct. 15, or he would be “obligated to issue a Notice of Violation, which may be followed by a zoning enforcement action.”

The letter listed the changes of use and addition of a new use as including:

Creation of one or more dwelling units;

Addition of a short-term residential services use;

Addition of an emergency housing use;

Addition of a temporary housing use;

Addition of a transitional housing use;

Creation of a multi-family dwelling; and/or

Commending other uses or activities on the property that are beyond the scope of the existing hotel/motel use.

Champlain Housing Trust Director of Community Relations Chris Donnelly said, “We were disappointed to receive the letter, and dispute the findings. What’s most disappointing, though, is the amount of energy and resources spent that could be going to helping people in crisis who have no roof over their head. We could be working together to create a more safe, secure and compassionate response to helping those who are homeless and other people in need.”

Colangelo mentioned his letter in his Town Manager’s Report dated Oct. 2, noting that the letter is a matter of public record and available upon request. He declined further comment.

On a parallel track, the Planning Commission has been discussing amendments to the definition of hotel/motel and the addition of a new definition for Temporary/Transitional/Emergency Shelter, most recently at its meeting on Sept. 24. They did not finalize the amendments at that time, opting to wait until after meeting with the Town Attorney for his advice on the changes. The proposed amendments are not on the agenda for the Planning Commission’s meeting on Oct. 8.

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