Dear Friends of River Park,
There have been a number of ups and downs since the zoning change necessary for River Park to proceed was overwhelmingly approved by the voters on March 9, 2010. We could not have achieved this momentous victory without the fantastic support of our neighbors and the voters of Lebanon.
I would especially like to thank those of you who stayed abreast of the regulatory proceedings and attended many, many meetings throughout this past year. I suspect that everyone has experienced some degree of “meeting fatigue” and “information overload” as the process has dragged out. I can’t blame you; it is a lot of information to digest and has been confusing to all of us at times.
I hope you had a chance to read the article in the Sunday, April 24th edition of the Valley News: “Big Project: Reviewing River Park”. If not, please take a moment to read it online as it offers an interesting commentary on where we stand in the approval process, and how we have “become lodged in the city’s regulatory machinery.”
We are at a crucial crossroads for the River Park project this spring, and I write to ask for your renewed support for smart growth in West Lebanon. There are two important public meetings at City Hall that I hope you will attend.
1. Wednesday, May 4, 2011, City Council Meeting. 7PM
There are two issues related to River Park that will be before the Lebanon City Council at this regular meeting, and we hope the council will vote affirmatively on both of them.
- A. The January 7, 2011 request from River Park to connect to the city’s water and sewer systems. This vote was postponed at our request at the April 20th meeting due to the unexpected and unexplained changes in the flow projections prepared by our engineers as part of our site plan application which we filed on June 14, 2010. The city engineer increased the flow projections by 50% without notifying us and, while recommending approval by the council, added conditions that we feel are unwarranted and unfair. The cost of the conditions approach $2.0 million, which will jeopardize the financial feasibility of River Park. We have asked for a meeting with the City Manager prior to the May 4th meeting to review the engineering assumptions and to explain our opposition to the conditions. In addition to the extraordinary expense, we think the residents on Crafts Avenue will be negatively impacted if the city engineer’s recommendations are accepted by the City Council.
- B. The request from River Park to conditionally approve “River Park Drive”, the main roadway through the project. Our Master Plan and the site plan application calls for the road to be built to City of Lebanon specifications and to become a public road once completed, at the City’s option. The zoning administrator has informed the Planning Board that the City Council must act on this request before the board can vote on our site plan and subdivision applications, a position that we do not support but have complied with. Our attorney has submitted a brief to the City to explain our position which we believe is supported by state law.
2. Thursday, May 19, 2011, Planning Board Public Hearing. 6:30PM
The primary track of the River Park approval process is with the Lebanon Planning Board, which on March 30th continued the required public hearing to the May date to allow time for the City Council to act on the items noted above. While the Planning Board has deemed our site plan application “complete”, they have not yet deemed our subdivision application “complete” because the third party review of our water and sewer projections was almost eight weeks overdue, and thus the council was not prepared to act. We hope the Planning Board will finally vote on the completeness of our application, some eleven months after it was submitted.
In response to a number of requests from our neighbors, Lyme Properties will host a Community Meeting on May 12, 2011 to explain where we are in the approval process for River Park and to answer questions. Unfortunately, unlike the earlier River Park planning meetings, we won’t be able to host this informational meeting at the former Bailey Brothers building since we were forced to demolish the structure due to the decision of the Lebanon Zoning Board of Appeal. Instead, the meeting will be held at the Charles T. Wilder Center in Wilder, Vermont, the former Congregational Church that Lyme Properties restored in 2010 and converted to a community center. We will be able to take advantage of the center’s advanced audio-visual system to bring everyone up to date and then open the floor to questions. Please stay tuned for more information about this Community Meeting in the days ahead.
In the meantime, thank you again for your interest and continued support of River Park. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions.