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HOME PAGE: News - April 15, 2014

Leo's Small Engines Move Approved

      by Andrew Martin

      MORRISTOWN – Another local business is on the move. Owner Mike Paritz will be moving Leo’s Small Engines from its current location on Brooklyn Street to a parcel that was formerly part of the Lanphear farm on Route 15 near Price Chopper. The move will mark the first time Leo’s has been housed in a building owned by Paritz, who until now has always leased space for his business.
      Paritz and his wife Joni Lanphear began the search for a new home for the business several years ago when they learned that there was talk that their current home could potentially be torn down. They began to seek an affordable lot that they could actually purchase for the business. When it became apparent that no such lot existed in the village they approached Joni’s parents with the idea of buying a one acre lot on the farm. When her parents agreed the next step was to begin working with the town on the process.
Leo’s Small Engines is changing addresses in Morrisville. By this fall ownership hopes that the new store, located on a parcel of what was formerly the Lanphear Farm in Morrisville on Route 15, will be up and running. Construction of the new home for the business is scheduled to begin in May. At left:  stands owner Mike Paritz, his wife Joni Lanphear, and Morristown Planning Director Todd Thomas with the multiple permits that the business had to acquire for the move.                         Martin photo

 One of the main obstacles that Paritz and Lanphear faced with the move was the fact that the Lanphear farm is not zoned for business. However, when they contacted Morristown Zoning Administrator Todd Thomas in September of 2012 he was still working on the updated Town Plan for Morristown. The lot in question was adjacent to commercial land and Thomas moved forward with having just a small, two-acre portion of the Lanphear farm rezoned as commercial as well. At the same time as the rezoning the subdivision of the lot from the rest of the Lanphear farm also occurred.
      Lanphear and Paritz also had to apply for a conditional use and site plan permit from the town. That application was approved by the town, and as part of it the town approved a driveway for the business that accessed Route 15 at the same spot as an old farm road. The driveway lot, which features a culvert installed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), is directly across from the new location of Curves.
      The project hit a snag when the Vermont Agency of Transportation denied the driveway application despite the town approval for the project. After several failed appeals of this decision Lanphear and Paritz contacted Lamoille Senator Rich Westman, who arranged a meeting for the pair with VTrans at the statehouse. Accompanied by Thomas the couple went before VTrans and was finally awarded the necessary permits for their driveway to access Route 15. In total Lanphear and Paritz had to acquire a total of seven permits for their move.
      According to Lanphear the help of Westman, Thomas, and other town officials was instrumental in making the move possible.
      “Throughout the process the difficult part has been the amount of time needed,” commented Lanphear, “It shouldn’t take so long to do business.”
      “The easy part was working with the town,” she praised, “Todd was very easy to work with.”
      “The town is very happy to help local small businesses stay in Morristown and grow here,” explained Thomas, “We try to be very business friendly, and we were glad to help with the access battle.”
      “We are here to help,” he concluded.
      According to Lanphear they hope to break ground on their new lot sometime in May. Leo’s new home will be a 6,000 square foot building, making it substantially larger than the 4,800 square foot building the business is currently located in. According to Lanphear the additional room will allow for more products and equipment to be put on display. The goal is to have the new building completed and open for business by October or November. Lanphear also added that they hope that the move will allow the business to eventually hire one or two new employees.

Cover Photos
From This Week!!

Thirty-eight year veteran of the Morrisville Fire Department Jeff Limoge was feted on Saturday, March 29, honoring his retirement from the department as First Assistant Chief.  Asst. Chief Limoge was presented with this plaque celebrating his many years of service to Morristown and the surrounding communities. 
                                                                           Laura Limoge photo

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