Planners mull sub-station

MANCHESTER - Green Mountain Power has given the town a cost estimate of what it would take to move the sub-station on Depot Street to another location. Allison Hopkins, planning commissioner and zoning administrator, said the cost to move the sub-station is approximately $3.15 million. Green Mountain Power will sell the almost one acre parcel of land to the town for the market price of $150,000.

Bill Drunsic, the chairman of the town's planning commission, said from his perspective, the other uses of $3 million dollars worth of town funds should be weighed. The parcel is important, he said, to the 11/30 corridor revival, but the price is steep.

"Everybody realizes this is a very desirable thing to have happen," he said. "But the question is, is it worth the cost?"

A discussion started about opening the sale of the land up to a private owner, as opposed to the town. Greg Boshart, a planning commission member, said he has heard some private parties express interest in owning the property, as well as contributing to the cost of moving the substation.

"Is this something that's mutually beneficial, to get that out of there from the town's standpoint, realign the streets and have that be an area that's developed, not as a town assets, as a private asset," he said. "The town might not need to bear that cost."

The planning commission wanted Hopkins to talk to town manager John O'Keefe about getting request for proposals out to developers in the area, seeing what they would be willing to contribute to the project. In other news, the planning commission has decided to review and re-write the definition of a fast food restaurant. Drunsic suggested the idea, citing the confusion about the definition and the controversy surrounding Subway and the proposed Starbucks.

"I guess the Subway appeal is probably going to bring this into a focus, is our definition of fast food restaurants," he said. "That was written more than 20 years ago, I think, and also relative to drive-thrus, whether or not we ought to be revisiting that."

It was mentioned by several members of the commission during the discussion that followed that the current definition has been causing confusion at the development review level, something the planning commission hopes to avoid. Hopkins said the planning comission wants to revist the denfintion to make sure it is up to date with the intent of the town.

This definition will be revisited and revised during the next few planning commission meetings.


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