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Act 250 permits issued with conditions, Resort parking

Editor's note: This is the second article in a series on the new Act 250 permits issued Oct. 7. Last week, we reviewed the permit issued to SP Lands for Phase One of Killington Village; this week we focus on the permit for the Killington Resort Parking Project.

In addition to issuing a permit for Phase One of the Killington Village, the District #1 Environmental Commission (the Commission) issued a permit for a new Resort Parking Project on October 7.

That permit was issued to Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC (the "Permittee") regarding their application #1RO981 for construction of a new parking lot for 1,276 vehicles for day-skier parking, realignment of a portion of Killington Road, reconfiguration of the Grand Hotel Parking Lot, the construction of a stormwater detention pond, and associated utilities (all of which were subsequently referred to as "the parking project").

The conditions attached to this project were mostly accommodations made by the Applicant during the Act 250 process. That process officially began with the application submitted Feb. 28, 2012 and concluded with the decision issued October 7.

One agreed upon accommodation concerned the modification of the daily time period for construction activities, which was changed from the original request of 6 a.m. to between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Work crew assembly and project meetings may begin at 6:00 a.m.

Perhaps the most interesting condition concerns the construction of the stormwater basin, which could impact an historic period site. The Commission noted that the limits and significance of this historic period site have not yet been fully investigated. The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation ("DHP") requested, and the applicant agreed, that further study would be conducted.
This site is an area where a sawdust pile exists from the early 1900s logging on the mountain by the mountain's previous owner the Vermont Marble Company, which had purchased 3,022 acres of "Killington" lands in 1901. From 1901 to 1918 the company lumbered this acreage and ran a sawmill near the present Basin Ski Shop complex.

Condition 16 stipulates that prior to starting construction of the parking facility, "the Permittee shall identify VT-RU-568 as the "archaeologically sensitive area not-to-be disturbed until further investigation has been completed" on the overall site plan and all other relevant site plans. Copies of the revised site plans shall be submitted to the Commission and the Division for Historic Preservation ("DHP")." It goes on to prohibit any type of ground disturbance within the VT-RU- 568 buffer zone prior to written approval of DHP or the Commission. It also requires archeological investigations in the affected portion of VT-RU-568 by a qualified archeological consultant prior to commencement of construction and further stipulates that the "VT-RU-568 and any other archeological sites shall not be disturbed until any necessary mitigation measures have been deemed sufficient by DHP."

Most interestingly, the Applicant proposed these and other measures, including "All archeological investigations including but not limited to mapping, evaluation, and data recovery shall be carried out in the affected portion of VT-RU-568 by a qualified archeological consultant. All studies will be scheduled accordingly so that mitigation measures that may be necessary can be satisfactorily planned and accomplished prior to construction within the study area specified above."

The Commission also addressed in its findings objections to the parking project presented by Killington resident and businessman Steve Durkee. Through his representative David Raphael, an architect, he contended that there would be an unduly adverse impact because "the developments would be shocking or offensive to the average person and the applicant had not taken reasonably available mitigation steps to reduce the visual and aesthetic impacts. Mr. Raphael asserted that the Resort Parking Project insufficiently protected or preserved the natural landscape, and thus would have irreversible detrimental impacts on the aesthetics of the area," the findings note.

Based upon their review of the evidence, the Commission found that the parking lot has the potential for some additional adverse aesthetic impacts, "but that, given the context of the existing resort setting, those impacts are not 'shocking or offensive to the average person,' nor would they violate a 'clearly written community standard' (none was identified)." The Commission also noted that, "the applicant is taking reasonably available measures to mitigate adverse aesthetic impacts." The Commission concluded that as conditioned in the permit, "the Resort Parking Project will not have an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural beauty of the area, aesthetics, historic sites or rare and irreplaceable natural areas."

Another issue raised by Durkee through his representative concerned traffic and safety and the need for more details on the proposed shuttle bus transit plan. In response, the Commission required the Applicant to provide more details of the proposed shuttle bus parking lot transit plan, which was then done by Resource Systems Group, engineers for the Applicant. The Commission concluded that the Resort Parking Project "will not cause unreasonable congestion or unsafe conditions with respect to use of the highways, waterways, railways, airports and airways, and other means of transportation existing or proposed."

Also of significance, the Applicant originally sought a ten-year construction period, however, a permit condition stipulates that, "The permit shall expire five years from the date of issuance if the Permittee has not commenced construction and made substantial progress toward completion within the five year period."

But the permit also notes that: "All site work and construction shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans by October 15, 2020, unless an extension of this date is approved in writing by the Commission. Such requests to extend must be filed prior to the deadline and approval may be granted without public hearing."

Any party may file a motion to alter with the District Commission within 15 days from the date of the decision. Additionally, any appeal of this decision must be filed with the Superior Court, Environmental Division within 30 days of the date the decision was issued.

These time frames also apply to the Killington Village Master Plan and Phase One permit, granted to SP LANDS. Stay tuned for further developments.