DRB concludes hearing on Harbor Place appeal

The Development Review Board took final testimony on the appeal by Champlain Housing Trust on the Notice of Violation issued on Oct. 15, 2015 by Town Manager Joe Colangelo, acting in his capacity as Zoning Administrator regarding the operation of Harbor Place. The Notice of Violation cited that CHT was operating Harbor Place in the absence of a required permit because it did not meet the definition of hotel/motel and added new uses beyond the definition of hotel/motel.

CHT has argued all along that Harbor Place did meet the definition, and therefore should not have been cited as being in violation. Much of the town’s argument centered on whether Harbor Place was open to the general public, as required by the bylaw, because those served at the facility are limited to a specific group of people: those referred by public and private agencies. CHT, however, argued that anyone is eligible to stay at Harbor Place, not just those referred by agencies, and the fact that no one other than those referred chose to stay there before the Notice of Violation was issued is irrelevant.

Karen Tyler, the attorney representing CHT, also alleged that if the DRB upheld the Notice of Violation, it may be subjecting itself and the town to charges of discrimination against those in legally protected classes, in this case low-income and disabled people, whether by intent or by effect.

At this meeting, the DRB heard testimony from Michael Monte, the COO and CFO of CHT, on the issue of discrimination. Monte testified that no town official had ever made any discriminatory statements regarding the population being served at Harbor Place. He argued, however, that the Notice of Violation nonetheless discriminates against the population they serve.

Claudine Safar, the attorney for the town, stated that the town did not want Harbor Place to shut down, but rather for CHT to apply for a permit to continue its current operation. Tyler counter-argued that no additional permit was required because Harbor Place was operating in accordance with the definition of hotel/motel.

The DRB closed the hearing to begin deliberations. It has 45 days to issue a decision on the appeal.

In other business, earlier in the meeting the DRB approved:

An application by Shelburnewood Mobil HomeCorp for a new free-standing sign and community bulletin board at 82 Shelburnewood Drive. The Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission had previously recommended approval of the application with a condition specifying the type of lighting that would be allowed for the sign.

A Conditional Use Application filed by Kevin Wise, the owner of a home at 146 Green Hills Drive, for a new entryway deck with an overhanging roof and a new dormer on the home.
A Final Plan Application filed by Frank Talbot, the owner and operator of New Village Farm, to re-subdivide the existing 113-acre lot into two separate lots, one for New Village Farm and one for the continued operation of One Mitten Farm.

The DRB also heard testimony from David Marshall of Civil Engineering Associates and John and Amy Saar, the owners of a property at 3735 Harbor Road, concerning the Saars’ Subdivision Sketch Plan Application to re-subdivide an existing two-lot subdivision into three lots. After some discussion, the hearing on the application was continued until the DRB’s next meeting on Nov. 2 at 7pm.

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