DRB OK's Inn demolition
Village Development Review Board Chair, Diana Olcott, was one of the voices of dissention in the decision for a couple of reasons, one of which pertained to the safety issues the building poses.
"It's dangerous if you go in it maybe, but just sitting there it is not dangerous to people passing by," Olcott said. "It also interferes with our whole concept of keeping historical structures. The bylaw and the town plan both speak to keeping historic buildings."
Board member Tom Dyett had a different opinion though.
"It's a hazard there. We had the fire marshall come in and he wouldn't step foot in that building. We have some responsiblity for public safety, at least I feel that way," Dyett said. "The building is falling down and no one is going to restore that thing. From a sensible standpoint the logical thing is to tear it down."
According to the Village's attorney, Michael Nawrath, the cost of demolishing the inn would be assumed by by either Manchester Hotel Associates, LLC or Bay View Loan Servicing, LLC and would come at no expense to the Village.
Although the board has approved the demolition of the historic inn, it is subject to certain conditions.
According to the findings and decision from the Village Development Review Board, the applicant - Manchester Hotel Associates, LLC - must submit an extermination plan to the Village's Administrative Officer, James Carter, for approval two weeks before the start of demolition. They must also implement that plan, when approved, before demolition begins.
Additionally, Manchester Hotel Associates, LLC and the owner of the property - Bay View Loan Servicing, LLC - must submit a plan designed to prevent greater danger to the public and the fire department to the Village Trustees by Jan. 1, 2012. The plan delivered to the Village Trustees would have to insure that the building remains secured against trespassers, that the basement is pumped when necessary in order to prevent the posts in the basement from sinking any further and that the pool be pumped out and remain empty until the pool is removed. The pool cover also must be repaired or the pool the must be fenced with a chain link fence at least four feet high, according to the findings and decision.
The board made their decision on Monday, Dec. 19, following a meeting on Dec. 14, in which Manchester Fire Chief Phil "Grub" Bourn testified before the board that he believed the building to be a hazard and that it should be demolished. Bourn told the board that if the building were to catch fire, he would not put his fire fighters at risk by sending them into the building to fight it. He also said his main concern would be to try to save the surrounding structures, but that the building immediately to the north of the Village Country Inn as well as the one across the street from it would be in danger of catching fire. In fact, Bourn told the board that if the Village Country Inn became fully engulfed the building to the north "is probably not going to make it," according to previous reports.
The discussion to raze the inn - which is located in the Manchester Village Historic District and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in February of 1984, according to the findings and decision - was raised by the application from Manchester Hotel Associates, LLC to construct a three story, 80 room Hampton Inn in the location of the Village Country Inn and the adjoining Nickelwhite property.
The application was split into two parts, the first centering around whether or not to demolish the Village Country Inn. Now that the Village Development Review Board has given their approval, the second part of the application - which deals with the construction of the new inn - will continue.
A Design Advisory Committee meeting will be held in the Village office at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 28 and on Jan. 9 the Village Development Review Board will hold a hearing on the proposed hotel beginning at 7 p.m. in the courthouse.
Although hearings on the proposed new hotel will continue, the decision to demolish the Village Country Inn may be appealed to the Vermont Environmental Court "by an interested person who participated in the proceedings before the Development Review Board," according to the findings and decision. Any such appeal would have to be made within 30 days of the decision, which was reached on Dec. 19.
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