HEARD ON THE STREET: 2.4.16

Six New Apartments Proposed Near Barre Street

MONTPELIER — Steve Ribolini, owner of SR Services and a major landlord in town, has submitted plans to the city to construct six new market-rate apartments on Maple Lane, a short street south of Barre Street, off Charles Street. The apartments would be near the dark gray Joe’s Kitchen facility, which is visible from the Hunger Mountain Co-op.

Ribolini told The Bridge the six units would all have two bedrooms, and will be built in two buildings of three units each. The apartments will have central air conditioning, and there will be apartment parking for 12 cars, which equals two per unit. He said he is not sure of rents yet, but hopes the units will be available for late 2016 occupancy.

The city’s Development Review Board was scheduled to go over Ribolini’s plans at a “sketch plan review” on February 1. According to Audra Brown, planning and zoning assistant, this was a chance for the board to hear about the project and point out any potential issues with it. Plans for the project can be seen at the planning department office, she said.

 

Cars Towed During Jan. 19 Winter Parking Ban

MONTPELIER — The City is in the second year of a system in which cars can be parked on most streets overnight during the winter, except when a snow-related event causes the city to forbid street parking from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. for plowing or snow removal. Before last winter, overnight parking was banned all winter. To see a list of the 18 streets where a continuous ban remains in effect from November 15 to April 1, go to http://www.montpelier-vt.org/807/Winter-Parking-Ban.

When a city parking ban was instituted for the night of Jan. 18–19 to allow for snow removal, not everyone heard about it. Thirty-six cars were towed, a higher number than normal, according to assistant city manager Jessie Baker. Those who are towed have to pay $65 to the towing company and a $15 parking ticket.

A half-dozen of those towed complained to the city, she said. One, Casey Kolb Nava of Winter Street, contacted The Bridge to object that she had moved to town recently from East Montpelier and was never told by the city about the ban. Nava is a physician who was on call that night and had left her husband’s car parked on the street so she could more easily leave in her own car in a hurry. “It didn’t even snow last night,” she said on the morning of January 19. “It was such overkill.”

Baker said she is still trying to improve the system and is interested in taking any suggestions from residents about how to improve notification of the winter parking bans. Among other things, the city posts the bans on its website, its Facebook page and on Front Porch Forum. Residents can also sign up to receive parking ban notifications by email, text and/or phone by going to www.vtalert.gov.

 

Floodplain Rules To Raise Some New Building Elevations

MONTPELIER — As part of the city’s effort to implement new zoning regulations, the city’s flood plain regulations are being removed from the zoning regulations and proposed as a separate set of rules. Both the proposed zoning regulations and floodplain regulations will be the subject of a second public hearing before the planning commission on Monday, February 8, at 5:30 p.m.

According to Planning Director Mike Miller, the proposed floodplain rules include a couple of significant changes. One is to raise the minimum “freeboard” for new or substantially renovated buildings to two feet higher than the current standard, which is the 100-year flood elevation. That means, for example, that the first floor of City Center at State and Main — which had to be higher than street level when it was built (in order to be above the 100-year flood level) — would have to be two feet higher than it is now if it was being built under the proposed regulations.

Miller said buildings that meet the new standard would get significantly reduced flood insurance rates compared to existing buildings in the floodplain, enough to help offset the costs of building with a higher first floor. He said insurance rates on existing buildings in the floodplain had, in the past, been “grandfathered” with lower rates, but that the federal government is now gradually raising those rates.

The second significant change in the proposed rules would create an expanded zone along either side of the North Branch, between the Cummings Street Bridge and the Wrightsville Dam, where it would be difficult or impossible to build a new building. The zone is to allow for the possibility of the river changing its course over time. Miller said the state wanted the city to impose similar, expanded zones along other river corridors in Montpelier, but the city declined.

You can see the proposed floodplain regulations and map here: http://www.montpelier-vt.org/833/Proposed-Zoning-and-Subdivisions-Regulat.

 

Volunteer Drivers Needed

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Association for the Blind is seeking to increase its pool of volunteer drivers in central Vermont. “Our pool is very low at this time and we have many clients who reside in and around the Montpelier area that need help,” stated Vicki Vest, coordinator of volunteer services. “We also have a couple specific needs for one to two volunteers as well.” Those interested in volunteering may contact Vest at 863-1358 ext. 24.

 

Revised Zoning Ordinance Now On View: Public Input Sought

MONTPELIER — The planning commission is finalizing proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance. The current draft is available at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/833/Proposed-Zoning-and-Subdivisions-Regulat or the Department of Planning and Community Development, 39 Main Street, City Hall, Montpelier, VT 05602. The next and possibly last public hearing to receive comments on the draft is on February 8, 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Until then, the public can also submit written comments to Mike Miller at mmiller@montpelier-vt.org.

The commission has told The Bridge they will review and consider every comment received. Thereafter, a new draft will be submitted to the city council for its consideration.

 

Vermont Arts Council To Honor Grant Recipients Feb. 9

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Arts Council will honor recipients of the most recent Cultural Facilities Grants at a reception February 9. The Cultural Facilities Grant Program funds projects that improve existing facilities and expand their capacity to provide cultural activities in their communities. The recipients were chosen by a panel with experience in historic preservation, programming, technical theater and accessibility.

This year, 16 organizations representing nine counties received a combined total of $272,474 for projects ranging from building an accessible bridge and walkway at the Birds of Vermont Museum to supporting the creation of a theater/performance space including AV equipment, theatrical lighting and storage cabinets.

The event will be held Tuesday, February 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the Cedar Creek Room, Vermont State House, 115 State Street, Montpelier. The public is welcome.

The Cultural Facilities Grant Program is administered by the Vermont Arts Council in conjunction with the Vermont Historical Society, and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, and is funded through an annual appropriation in the capital budget.

Washington County Recipients:

  • Center for Arts and Learning, $19,340
  • Lost Nation Theater, $11,70
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