Neighbor files court appeal of Shelburne Green permit: Fiddlehead expansion hinges on permit approval

LISA SCAGLIOTTI
Correspondent

A recent permit approval for Shelburne Green business park to expand Fiddlehead Brewing Co.’s facility has been challenged with an appeal filed by a homeowner in the adjacent neighborhood.

The appeal dated Aug. 30 was filed with the Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division by Nancy C. Hinsdale and her son, Clark Hinsdale III, of Charlotte. Both are principals of the Nancy C. Hinsdale Trust, which owns Nancy Hinsdale’s home on Covington Lane in the Gables neighborhood located east of the commercial park. 

The Development Review Board on Aug. 26 approved changes to Shelburne Green’s development permit to allow new construction that would connect several existing buildings to create a single building measuring up to 40,000 square feet for Fiddlehead’s growing brewery operation. The space would also include a café of up to 2,500 square feet.

The request to make this change to the Shelburne Green 2014 permit, which envisioned smaller-scale office and industrial buildings, took nearly two years.

The building expansion request drew little concern from the public. However, the Hinsdales and other neighbors from the Gables took issue with the café portion of the project.

A food-service space was already permitted in the project plans but not yet built. Shelburne Green asked to change the hours a café would be allowed to operate. Some neighbors, including the Hinsdales, objected to extending the allowed closing time from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., although the development review board agreed to the request.

The hours and the location of the café near the residential neighborhood are the main focus of the appeal, not the brewery expansion, said Clark Hinsdale in an email message Wednesday.

“We believe this change constitutes a restaurant use and restaurants are supposed to be within 200 feet of Route 7,” he said. 

Other issues are potential additional buffering between the brewery and the neighborhood and the noise impact from possible outdoor concerts, Hinsdale said. 

Shelburne Green developer and architect Graham Goldsmith on Sept. 11 said that if the appeal mainly focuses on the café’s location and operating hours, “then we will see if we can work something out with them.”

Fiddlehead owner Matt Cohen has said his operation has maximized the current 10,000 square foot brewery and the growing business needs more space to increase production and accommodate visitors. The company recently entered a five-year lease for storage space in Williston in order to free up room at the Shelburne site, Cohen said.

Goldsmith said work is under way on drawings and plans to submit for the building permit that will be needed to start construction on the expansion, hopefully this fall.

“Our goal is to keep moving forward,” he said. 

At its regular meeting on Sept. 10, the Shelburne Selectboard went into executive session to discuss the pending litigation in the Shelburne Green case. 

Before the closed session began, board Chair Jerry Storey noted that he lives in the Gables development and he wanted to disclose a “potential conflict of interest based on appearance.”

Storey noted that the appeal is made by individuals, not the neighborhood’s homeowners association to which he belongs.

“I don’t feel that it compromises my objectivity or sense of fairness in dealing with the issue at this point, and in that case I feel that I should not have to recuse,” Storey said.

Board members did not object to his position. It was not clear exactly what, if any, role the selectboard would play regarding the appeal. Town Manager Lee Krohn participated in the closed session and said afterward that the board did not take any action following their discussion.

The selectboard had another topic to discuss in executive session – strategy in contract negotiations regarding the purchase or lease options related to the proposed fire-rescue station project with Healthy Living Market for Longmeadow Drive. No action was taken.

Other board business

Other items the selectboard addressed Tuesday:

• Inviting the public to the Sept. 14 grand opening ceremony for the new Pierson Library and renovated historic Town Hall. Activities including a ribbon-cutting, building tours and music beginningh at 9:30 a.m.

• Krohn said town officials are working with a wetlands consultant regarding the Shelburne Dog Park in order to satisfy state requirements for the site located along a wetland off Harbor Road. Additions and improvements to the park, such as a gravel path and benches, were deemed to be in violation of state regulations. Krohn said state officials have indicated they may be willing to allow some items to remain in place if the town applies for a wetlands permit for the site.

• Appointing Robert Paquin to the Natural Resources and Conservation Committee through April 2022.

• Revising the name of the Tree Advisory Committee to drop the word “advisory” from its name, making it a regular standing town committee.

• Adopting a policy for renting spaces in town-owned buildings including the new library, historic Town Hall and the town offices building. The policy comes with new fees which the town manager has discretion to charge as the policy is implemented.

• Approving an open-space easement for 6.36 acres that were part of a two-lot subdivision in 2014 on land owned by Robert and Debra Gurwicz along Dorset Street and Shelburne-Hinesburg Road.

• The board discussed but did not take action on draft policies addressing how to handle problem beavers and steps to take regarding delinquent property tax payments. Revisions to the document drafts were discussed with updated versions expected to be back for consideration at a future meeting.

• The board noted that its next regular meeting date is Sept. 24 when a special meeting is planned from 7-9 p.m. in the new community room at Pierson Library. Vice Chair Jaime Heins and board member Mike Ashooh are organizing a special moderated panel discussion to focus on economic development and business retention and growth in Shelburne. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

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