FAQs About Hannaford Proposal

These questions and answers are from the Town of Hinesburg website.

What is proposed?
The Development Review Board (DRB) is reviewing Hannaford’s application for a 36,000+ square foot supermarket, including an in-store pharmacy. It is proposed for a 4.6-acre undeveloped lot on Commerce Street, behind the Post Office and the National Bank of Middlebury. This parcel is “lot 15” from the previously approved Commerce Park subdivision, and is owned by the Giroux family trust.

What kind of application is this?
This is a Site Plan application per section 4.3 of the Hinesburg Zoning Regulations. As a “Retail Establishment” the proposed use is permitted in the Commercial zoning district; however, it still requires site plan review/approval by the DRB as does any non-residential development project. Hannaford also submitted two related applications: 1) Conditional Use application for overnight staff in store after 10pm per sections 4.3.6 and 4.2 (Zoning Regulations); 2) Sign application (1 near road, 1 on building) per section 5.4 (Zoning Regulations).

How will the DRB make its decision?
Ultimately, the DRB must decide whether the application is in conformance with the relevant sections of the Zoning Regulations and the Official Map. These land use regulations represent the common “rulebook” that the DRB and all interested parties get to play by. The DRB review is a public process through which the applicant, the landowner, and interested community members can present evidence to inform the DRB before they render a decision. The DRB will hold a series of meetings to hear evidence and discuss various aspects of the project. When they feel they have all the evidence they need, the DRB will close the public hearing and begin deliberating to reach a decision. These deliberations may be in open or closed session, and must result in a formal written decision within 45 days of the close of the public hearing. The power to approve or deny the project at the local level rests with the DRB alone.

With that said, DRB decisions can be appealed to the Vermont Environmental Court. The Hannaford project will also require State level review through the Act 250 permitting process, which will incorporate several State permits (e.g., storm water treatment, changes to the Route 116 right of way, etc.). This project also requires at least one Federal level permit with the US Army Corps of Engineers for proposed impacts to a wetland area.

When did the DRB make its decision?
Hearings began in January 2011, and concluded in October 2012.  The decision was announced on November 7, 2012.

What about this Official Map?
Hinesburg’s Official Map (adopted in May 2009) delineates areas that the community has identified as important for future community facilities – e.g., future roads, sidewalks, community buildings, intersection improvements, etc. In this case, Hannaford is proposing to develop a parcel that was identified on the Official Map as a location for future community facilities. Examples of the types of community facilities envisioned are included in note #3 (upper right corner of the map), and include, but are not limited to, “Town Green, Community Center, Fire/Police Station expansion, Farmers Market venue, Parks & Recreation areas, Library relocation.” The Official Map carries the weight of a regulation, and Hannaford must demonstrate that their project can accommodate the future community facility shown on the map. If the DRB finds that the community facility can be accommodated, the Official Map poses no issue. However, according to State statute, “Failure to accommodate the mapped public facility or obtain a minor change in the official map shall result in the denial of the development…”

A denial of the project based in part or wholly on the Official Map starts a clock with regard to the Town acquiring the land or an interest in the land. The Town is under no obligation to purchase the land; however, if the Selectboard has not started proceedings to acquire the land within 120 days from the date of the denial, then the DRB must review the Hannaford application a second time without regard to the Official Map. In other words, the Official Map compels developers to save space for important public facilities in specific areas; however, it also compels the Town to put its money where its mouth is or drop the issue.

Before the DRB review began, the Selectboard, Planning Commission, and Village Steering Committee all had meetings to discuss the Official Map with regard to the importance of lot 15 on Commerce Street. All three boards reaffirmed that this parcel (in part or in whole) is an important location for future community facilities that will be needed as the village area expands and develops. Both the Planning Commission and the Village Steering Committee provided written feedback to the DRB explaining why lot 15 was placed on the Official Map. The Selectboard decided to create a “Lot 15 Committee” to evaluate and move forward with the acquisition of this land if possible. The Lot 15 Committee was charged with several tasks and their reports can be found on the town website.The fiscal implications (tax revenue, cost of services, etc.) of private versus public ownership and use may also become a charge for the committee, as several board members indicated this was an important consideration.


How do I learn more about this application?
Check the Town website for DRB meeting agendas and more information. The Hannaford overview plan and application narrative are already on the website along with our Zoning Regulations, Official Map, and a 3-page overview of how the Official Map works. T