Review board considers church, Irish Hill projects


The Shelburne Development Review Board recently continued its work on several project proposals including a request to rebuild the parish hall at a church in the village, the design of a nine-lot subdivision on Irish Hill Road, and the final approval for the 91-lot development by Snyder Homes on Spear Street.

At its Jan. 16 meeting, the board began with the project proposed by St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church to essentially reconstruct the parish hall structure behind the red-brick church on Church Street in Shelburne village.

The church in April 2017 went before the review board with a similar request, which the board approved. It’s returned however, because the original request was too big for the church’s budget. After review by church officials, parishioner and project spokesman Brian Precourt said the scope of the project had been scaled back.

What was initially planned at more than 6,000 square feet is now designed as a 4,200-square-foot addition to the church.

Precourt said the new space will be modern and more functional than the current parish hall. It will contain four restrooms, including restrooms that are handicapped-accessible. The space will be large enough for church functions and it will contain a kitchen.

Having the parish hall attached to the church will be practical, Precourt said.

“When there are functions in the hall after mass, people won’t have to go outside,” he said.

Precourt added that the current hall has reached the end of its useful life, noting that it was built in the 1800s and moved multiple times.

The project will be paid for by parish fundraising, not the diocese, Precourt said. The church had $600,000 in savings anticipating this project and is near the end of a fundraising effort for another $1.5 million. He said the effort was within about $20,000 of its goal.

“It’s gone very well,” he said.

Precourt said the parish hopes to begin construction by late spring and the project would take a year since the church will remain open throughout. After construction is completed, the main church building will undergo some renovations that include plaster restoration and the addition of a sprinkler system, all within the $2.1 million budget, he said.

“We would like to be done for the parish’s 125th anniversary on December 19, 2020,” Precourt said.

The church request will be on the board’s Feb. 6 agenda at which point the board can end its public hearing to move on to a decision.

Irish Hill Road Subdivision/Snyder Homes

The board also spent time on a request to pare down a nine-lot subdivision proposal up for review which has gotten the attention of residents concerned that it will be out of character with the Irish Hill neighborhood where it is located.

That project would turn 90 acres along the south side of Irish Hill Road between Spear and Dorset streets into nine single-family home sites. The land with rolling hills and clusters of forest is presently owned by Elizabeth Whalley.

The project has raised concerns from the Natural Resources Committee and poses some conflict with zoning bylaws, according to meeting minutes.

At previous meetings, several nearby homeowners have expressed concern for the potential impacts of adding homes under the current subdivision design.

Neighbor David Diaz spoke for several minutes to suggest the project cut three of the lots from the design to lessen the impact on a forested part of the tract, eliminate the need to blast a rocky ridge, and prevent new homes from being visible from nearby roads.

Diaz pointed to other nearby residential development as examples of how a new subdivision might be designed to preserve the rural character of the area. He said the current design of the development would do the opposite.

“It will not look rural. It will not look like a farmstead. It will look like a suburban subdivision and I think that’s what we need to avoid,” he told the board.

Applicant Whalley spoke very briefly.

“I disagree with what Dave says,” she said, adding that she believes the area isn’t as visible from nearby roads as Diaz described.

The board said it would deliberate on the application at a future time.

The other project that took up discussion time for the board was Snyder Homes’ project along Spear Street for 91 housing units. The board is near the end of its review of the development. Greg Shover, a neighbor on Webster Lane, spoke about concerns of stormwater from Kwiniaska golf course and Snyder’s new residential development on his property and neighborhood.

Project representatives discussed their design plans to handle runoff.

The board decided to continue its discussion of the issue at its meeting next Wednesday

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