The Shelburne Selectboard has tapped two board members who are lawyers, and the town manager, to renegotiate the details of the agreement with Healthy Living Market intended to lead to a new fire and rescue station.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the selectboard convened an abbreviated meeting with just this item for discussion, then held an executive session because it involves a real estate purchase.
The board met for an hour with four members participating, according to Town Manager Lee Krohn. Vice Chair Jaime Heins did not attend.
The board’s main decision was to designate Heins and board member Mary Kehoe – the two members of the board who are attorneys, along with Krohn, “to negotiate with the parties on amendments to the purchase and sales agreement that had previously been signed by Healthy Living/Road to Hana and the Town,” Krohn said.
The move comes nearly seven months after Town Meeting Day voters gave the go-ahead for town officials to explore working on a unique real estate project with Healthy Living Market. The town has committed up to $50,000 for the preliminary work, half from taxpayers and half from rescue funds.
The grocery company has chosen commercial property at the intersection of U.S. Route 7 and Longmeadow Drive for its third Vermont store – its flagship market is in South Burlington; a second store is currently under construction near Taft Corners in Williston and the company has another outlet in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Healthy Living representatives have said they would like to lease the new space from a real estate company rather than owning the new building.
The site, which is part of the Rice Lumber development, is large enough to accommodate a market as well as a new headquarters for the Shelburne Fire and Rescue departments. The move would consolidate the first response departments which are located separately now – the fire department on Route 7 in the village and rescue on Turtle Lane off Harbor Road.
The partnership was proposed as a way for the grocer and town to share resources pre-development such as site work, some design, and initial permitting. The project has gone through some preliminary review with the development review board but it has not obtained any key local or state permits yet.
Both sides have acknowledged that the process is taking longer than anticipated. The details the board is looking to amend now, Krohn explained, involve timing issues in the agreement, which was signed April 24.
The original agreement had late October as a target for preliminary development analysis to be completed. The selectboard has said it would have liked to ask voters in March to consider funding the land purchase for the project.
Should the project not be ready for a March vote on the land purchase, 2020 is an election year with a primary election in August and a general election in November, two more opportunities for a public vote on the project.
The next step is to hire a developer to steer the project through the permitting and design process. The agreement between the grocer and the town calls for Healthy Living to choose a developer with town officials having input on that choice.
In late August, Healthy Living’s Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, who oversees the company’s new projects, said they were close to inking a deal, but no announcement of the developer has happened yet. The company’s Williston store will be located in commercial space being built by Finney Crossing developers Snyder FC Commercial Properties and Rieley Properties.
“I think we’ve got a great new partner to announce soon,” Lesser-Goldsmith said several weeks ago.
Contacted this week, he reiterated that he hopes to share more details soon.
“The ball is in the selectboard’s court right now,” he said in an email to the Shelburne News. “The developer agreement is still confidential until they approve it.”