The mission of Responsible Growth Hinesburg is to ensure that new development in Hinesburg is:
- scaled to meet the needs of our town;
- constructed so that water and other natural resources are protected; and
- located so that it complements its surroundings, protects our working landscape
and recreational lands, and
- fosters a sense of community.
Five years of protection for natural resources and community
In November 2010 Hannaford Supermarket submitted to the Hinesburg Zoning and Planning Office an application package for a 36,000 square foot store to be located on Lot 15 in Commerce Park. Out of that event was born Responsible Growth Hinesburg (RGH), a group that has worked for almost five years to educate ourselves and the community on diverse subjects such as
Traffic- Evening rush hour would be significantly worse with Hannaford and other proposed developments in place.
Stormwater- Hannaford’s proposed underground chamber offers detention but not treatment of stormwater while requiring huge amounts of fill and 4-5’ retaining walls.
Wetlands- The wetland on Lot 15 currently has the ability to detain AND treat stormwater, delivering clean water to Patrick Brook.
Aesthetics-The Town’s recreational path along the canal, the result of federal, state, and local investment, would be overwhelmed by a large store and accompanying parking in what is now a human-scaled neighborhood.
These issues have broad implications that go far beyond one grocery store, raising questions about safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers in our village, about the importance of open space and recreational opportunities such as the canal walk provides, and perhaps most vital, they raise this question:
How do we ensure that clean water flows into Patrick Brook, the LaPlatte, and Lake Champlain and protect against flooding in big storm events? What part do wetlands play?
The State of Vermont, the EPA, and the Lake Champlain Committee are all concerned about water quality in Lake Champlain. The LaPlatte River, with its headwaters in Hinesburg, flows into Lake Champlain, and Hinesburg’s stormwater regulations directly affect the river. Patrick Brook directly affects the La Platte River. The work of our consultants has convinced us that the Lot 15 wetland plays a key role in mitigating the effects of the big storm events that are becoming more common. Its bowl shape, its wetland vegetation, its connection to the wetland area next to Patrick Brook all make it important.
It has become clear to RGH that local regulations are not sufficient to ensure that future development in the Village Growth area will be beneficial to the Town and its environment. Therefore, members continue to actively participate in planning meetings and in application review hearings for proposed large-scale projects to ensure that they, as well, serve the present and future needs of the town.
While RGH has broader concerns than just the proposed supermarket, our current focus is on challenging the Hannaford proposal in Environmental Court beginning November 30, 2015. To do this, we need to raise funds to pay our expert consultants and our talented and generous attorney. Since 2011, we have raised $133,000 through grants, fundraising and community-building events, and the generosity of almost 200 individuals. You can contribute in two ways:
Checks made payable to Preservation Trust of Vermont, with memo indicating RGH. Give to your contact RGH member or mail to Preservation Trust, 104 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401.
On-line at www.ptvermont.org; click the donate box and choose Responsible Growth Hinesburg.
2015 finally brought all eight (now seven) pending appeals to Superior Court, Environmental Division. Expert testimony was filed in advance and each expert appeared in court for questions from the judge and for cross examination. See article in VTDigger here VTDigger article on Wetlands, Hannaford and Hinesburg
-New applications submitted for Hannaford project as a requirement of Nov 2012 approval. Three out of four applications DENIED by Hinesburg DRB in May 2014. One application approved but decision will be appealed in Superior Court.
-Application to federal Army Corps of Engineers to fill lot 15. Public comment period ended Dec 27, 2013. Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources gave an OK to proceed to the Army Corps in July 2014. Permit issued August 2014.
In 2012: Hannaford Plan Approved by Local Board - November 2012
Hinesburg's Development Review Board voted to approve the application to build a Hannaford store on Lot 15 of Commerce Park. The vote was split 4-3, indicating a strong division within the group. A dissenting opinion was written by board member Greg Waples.
The project was approved with the imposition of many conditions, meaning additional things that the company must do before beginning construction. These include getting permits and approvals from the town's Selectboard, as well as Vermont's Act 250 and stormwater agencies. The conditions also including putting money up front in an escrow account in case the town determines, via traffic studies, that additional traffic control measures are necessary. These could include a widening of the road and bridge just north of Kinney Drugs and/or a traffic light at the intersection of Route 116 and Mechanicsville Road.
The decision by the DRB has been appealed to Superior Court, Environmental Division by both Hannaford and Responsible Growth Hinesburg.
History (2010-2012) leading up to the local DRB decision:
The hearings closed on July 17, 2012 but then reopened in October for a final narrow discussion of the provision of an area for a farmers market and whether this fulfilled the intentions of the "Official Map" designation.
Link to Attorney Jim Dumont's summation to the Board
June 6, 2012 - The Hannaford group presented a balloon float during a site visit to Lot 15 to demonstrate the dimensions of the proposed building. The engineers also staked out the parking lot boundaries, retaining wall heights and the property lines. At a later site visit with the Act 250 board, the developer was evasive in answering questions about the store. The markers are still there. Park and stand next to the proposed walls and in between the poles to get a sense of the true size. Try walking along the canal path to see how incredibly close the building and parking lot will be to this valuable community resource. In November 2015, a new marker was placed which indicates the true closest point of the building.
June 5, 2012 - The new corrected design is unveiled. Walls restored to 21' feet tall and new height of 26 '9".
May 15: David White presented a new store design for Hannaford with 18' walls. This improved design turns out to be a mistake and is later retracted. Check the town website to see the plans and the Powerpoint presentation.
Feb 2012 - May 2012 - Hearings on recess by Hannaford request.
February 21: Representatives for Hannaford finally admitted that plans submitted in November 2010 do not include treatment of stormwater from the project. The so-called state of the art system detains but does not treat the first flush of rain which typically contains chemical contaminants. On the traffic front, Hannaford has accepted a proposed peak hour rate of 386 trips (~193 shoppers in an hour). (keep in mind that the peak hour is defined as the 30th worst traffic hour during the year).
January 17: postponed
January 4, 2012: Two hour deliberative session on Hannaford (board in private session)
December 20, 2011: Traffic presentations by Hannaford Consultant and rebuttal by Oman Analytics, hired by Responsible Growth Hinesburg.
November 15: Presentations by Village Steering Committee, Conservation Committee, Hinesburg Village Vision (pro-Hannford community group) and RGH members and consultants. No presentation by Hannaford.
October 18: postponed.
September 2011: Presentation of revised design without drive-through pharmacy and other changes (photo above).
May 2011 - Sept 2011 - Hearings on recess by Hannaford request.
November 2010 - Hannaford delivers complete application package with no prior consultation with town staff.