Monday April 27, 2015 I. CALL TO ORDER A meeting of the Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) was called to order in the Town Office Municipal Conference Room at 7:00 p.m.
Development Review Board Members present (6): Skip Brush, Rick Emilo, Scott Foster, Don Keeler, Kevin Newton, and Alternate John MacIntyre (Absent: Ted Davis and Ruth Whitney).
Others Present: Peter DeGraff, Tom McGinn, Nancy Malcolm, Natalie Peters, Norm Cushman, Victoria DeWind, Gary F. Baker, Chris Robbins, Dean George, Ross Conrad, Ted Dunakin, Zoning Administrator, and Kathy Wheatley, Videographer.
II. COMMUNICATIONS There were no communications from the public.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES The Board members reviewed the draft minutes of April 13, 2015.
Keeler motioned to approve the DRB minutes as submitted. Emilo seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Two absent (Davis and Whitney) IV. BUSINESS
Middlebury College – PUD Amendment to Construct Four Student Residential Facilities – Adirondack View and Ridgeline Road
Vice Chair Brush administered the oath. All present affirmed.
Tom McGinn presented the application to the Board. This project involves construction of four new student residential facilities on the Main Campus. Three buildings will front on Adirondack View and one will front on Ridgeline Road. The Ridgeline Road building will hold 64 beds, no kitchens but will have common meeting spaces. The three on Adirondack View will be a townhouse style with four units (eight students per) in each building. There will be a total of 158 new beds on the College campus.
McGinn then discussed the College’s 2008 Master Plan. The administration would like to complete a full revision of the Plan but doesn’t currently have a timeline for doing that. The Plan as written does not contemplate residential development on this part of the campus. Currently 35 beds are located below the ridgeline area in the “Mods” which have reached their useful life. In addition, there is a need to move students from off-campus housing to alleviate issues with the Town’s residential neighborhoods. This plan would move roughly 75 students from off-campus locations. The townhouse style building and the proposed ridgeline building provide a smaller scale housing option for upper class students. There are recognized building sites in the Master Plan for on-campus residential building but they are reserved for larger scale, dormitory style buildings. This location will provide for a recognized need while preserving dedicated major building sites for future development.
Between the removal of the Mods (35 beds) and the 75 student-count from off-campus housing, this leaves 48 beds that will help to alleviate overcrowding in dormitories.
MacIntyre asked if this would be upper class housing. McGinn stated that would be the case.
Brush asked what would happen to the location where the Mods are located after their removal. McGinn stated it would revert to parking. Brush asked if parking is assigned. McGinn stated that was the case and first or second year students typically park in this location. Keeler made the point that with the recent relocation of staff offices to satellite locations within the Town, there are significantly fewer cars parking within the main campus.
DeGraff provided an overview of the utilities for the project. Currently there is a four inch water main that extends from College Street south on Adirondack View to about the midpoint of the length of the road. From there it changes to an eight inch main and continues south before heading west down Ridgeline Road and back to College Street. Fire flow testing will be completed to determine if there is adequate pressure for the four new buildings. Sewer runs down Adirondack View from College Street and then turns down through the Ridgeline area to a pump station on College Street. The portion of the line that runs through the Ridgeline area will have to be relocated to accommodate the footprints of the four new buildings. Stormwater has a few catch basins on Adirondack View but for the most part the water sheet flows off the street to the west. Improvements will result in a sidewalk that will focus the stormwater flows to two new stormwater retention ponds that will be built to State standards. Pedestrian access will utilize existing pathways and Ridgeline Road will be relocated at the point where it meets Adirondack View. Wetlands in the area will be redelineated for greater understanding of their present location. DeGraff stated there is a request for a waiver on the height requirement for the building located on Ridgeline Road. The project will result in four or five handicapped and service vehicles on Adirondack View.
Newton asked if Ridgeline Road will continue to be closed to the public. DeGraff stated that was the case and Newton then asked how emergency vehicles will access that area. McGinn confirmed there is a knox box for unlocking the chain. Emilo asked if Ridgeline Road can support fire trucks and whether there is appropriate access to the new buildings. Dunakin relayed his conversation with the Fire Chief regarding the question of adequate access for fire suppression equipment. McGinn stated the grade and presence of wetlands does not lend to providing access to the backs of the buildings but they would look at it.
Brush stated the Police Chief provided a favorable response to the project. He asked if Dunakin had any questions regarding the utilities. Dunakin stated a flow test will be required for adequate water pressure and there was a concern regarding the sewer service line running through a bioretention area to limit the possibility of infiltration. DeGraff stated the sewer line will be looked at.
Brush asked if the College owns all the houses on Adirondack View. McGinn stated that was the case. Brush asked who occupies the existing houses on Adirondack View. McGinn and Cushman stated both students and faculty depending on the time of the year.
Victoria DeWind stated she understood there may be endangered plant species in this area and suggested that be looked at.
Natalie Peters stated this location is not recognized in the Master Plan for development and felt locations on Hillcrest made more sense as articulated in the Plan. She wanted to know why the Master Plan is not being followed. Brush stated his thought was that a Master Plan could be revised and the idea of moving students back on campus was a positive step by the College. McGinn stated only one aspect of the Master Plan isn’t being accomplished with this project, other aspects of the Plan are accomplished with this project. Peters stated she wasn’t objecting to housing being built by the College, she was objecting to the proposed location on the campus. She felt an amendment process for the Master Plan should happen first followed by the permitting process. DeWind agreed with Peters that the College was completing the process “backward”. Brush felt it was important to note that the College was making an effort to get students back on campus.
Nancy Malcolm spoke about how this project conforms to the Town Plan. She articulated how the project meets the test of the five themes: human interaction, sustainability, affordability, trends, community character and social interaction. She asked if the buildings would be universally accessible. McGinn stated the Ridgeline building would be. Malcolm felt the project complied generally with the Town Plan and stated the Planning Commission has been working with the College to try to get students out of residential neighborhoods. This project takes a step toward achieving this goal. Malcolm asked if this project would result in a change to the cap of 125 students living off campus. McGinn stated there is an effort to limit the number to the greatest extent possible but they have to take into consideration the needs of their students. Malcolm asked if it might be possible to incorporate stormwater treatment as an educational opportunity. Malcolm asked if there would be an issue of blocking views for other buildings. DeGraff stated the area is heavily wooded and there is enough slope to the topography that viewsheds should not be affected.
There was discussion about the previously contemplated house sites in the Ridgeline area. Four out of the eight sites are currently built out.
Ross Conrad felt it would be more appropriate for the College to undergo a democratic process for revising the Master Plan. He encouraged the College to update the Master Plan as soon as possible. Conrad then asked for the width of Ridgeline Road. DeGraff stated it was built to Town standards at the time of construction. Conrad asked how the buildings would be heated. McGinn stated propane at first and then natural gas when it becomes available. Conrad asked that the College consider a non-fossil fuel product. He also asked if composting toilets and waterless urinals were considered. McGinn stated that was not considered for this project.
Malcolm asked if a landscaping plan would be developed. McGinn stated it would.
McGinn stated these buildings will be constructed with good thermal envelopes, low flow plumbing fixtures, etc. to ensure energy efficiency.
Brush suggested a sidewalk should be placed on College Street from Adirondack View to the Ridgeline parking to provide for safer pedestrian access. McGinn stated they have looked at that in the past but the state is not open to that idea on Route 125 West. McGinn felt it would be more appropriate to encourage students, through appropriate lighting and signage, to use the existing pedestrian network. Brush asked the College at least explore the possibility of a sidewalk on Route 125 with the state.
Keeler suggested additional lighting in this area. McGinn stated that will be looked at with appropriate lighting fixtures.
Chris Robbins stated she felt this was a great project. She asked why the College had decided to put the buildings on a steep, forested site. McGinn and DeGraff felt this site was the best location for this type of housing, facilitating walk-out basements and light access on the lowest levels for living spaces. The smaller scale style would be out of scale in other areas of campus and fits well for this area.
Newton asked if the three remaining Ridgeline sites would be used in the future. McGinn stated that isn’t a plan at this time. He articulated topographic challenges with the other locations.
Peters felt the College should review its Master Plan in greater detail. DeWind felt the Master Plan should be looked at as a whole.
Brush asked about the relationship with the third party who is developing this project for the College. McGinn stated the firm has experience with these types of projects on other college campuses that allows for creative financing. The firm will own the buildings and there is a series of ground leases and management agreements.
Brush asked what information the Board would need for a second hearing. Dunakin stated the Design Advisory Committee is meeting on May 8th to review the application and there are some outstanding issues associated with the utilities that need to be finalized to meet Town standards. Foster suggested a landscaping plan. Emilo suggested looking at the fire access issue.
Keeler asked for clarification on the fire access issue. Dunakin stated the Fire Chief is hoping for the best possible situation but understands that site limitations come into play as well.
MacIntyre suggested a lighting plan and a look at the fire access issues. McGinn confirmed the buildings would be sprinkled and meet all State life safety requirements.
Conrad suggested the College consider pollinators in their landscaping plan.
Brush asked McGinn to look at the possibility of a sidewalk on Route 125 with the state.
Emilo motioned to recess the hearing to a date to be determined. Foster seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously. Two absent (Davis and Whitney). V. OTHER BUSINESS Dunakin reviewed one minor application regarding 118 Morningside Drive with the Board.
VI. ADJOURNMENT Emilo motioned to adjourn the meeting. Foster seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously at 8:33pm. Two absent (Davis and Whitney). Respectfully Submitted,