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
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
Map works. T