Town of Halifax, Vermont

September 14, 2010 

Call to Order 

            The meeting was called to order at 7:04 PM.  Members in attendance were Chair Sirean LaFlamme, Howard Alboum, Brian McNeice, and William Pusey. Board members Chris Estep, Norman Fajans, and Bradley Rafus were absent.  Others in attendance were Edith Fenton, Patricia Farrington, Lorraine Muha, Margo Avakian, and Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.

Public Hearing on Honora Winery Request 

            Mrs. LaFlamme advised that Mrs. Farrington and Mrs. Muha would explain the particulars of their request to amend the hours and capacity for bus tours. 

            Mrs. Farrington advised that they have had a request from Collette Tours for the 2011 and 2012 foliage seasons to come to the Winery and Vineyard at the end of the day and have dinner at the event center.  She advised that currently the hours for bus tours are between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, scheduled for Thursday through Sunday with a maximum of two buses at one time, and the capacity is 150 participants.  She is requesting that the hours be extended to 9:00 PM, scheduled on any day of the week Monday through Sunday, with a maximum of three buses and a capacity of 200 Participants.

            Mrs. Farrington advised that when they first requested the schedule for bus tours they had no actual experience dealing with this type of tour.  Since that time they have attended various marketing functions and have become aware of the needs and desires of bus tour companies.  She also advised that if the Board approves this request it would not be an increase to the number of events held, and the capacity of 200 is the same as is already allowed for weddings.  She noted that at this time only Collette has requested to include the Winery and Vineyard on their tours and only for specific dates which were highlighted on the 2011 schedule.  

            Mrs. Muha advised that the reason they are requesting the amendments “in general” is to allow them to enter into contracts with other tour companies, if they should request to do so, without the need to come back each time a new tour request is presented.

            They assured the Board that the days that tours are scheduled, they would not be having another event, such as a wedding on the same day.  They have already discussed with Collette the restriction to one event per day.  If they would like the tour to be on a day when there is another event, they will be taken to the facility in Jacksonville and the wine tasting and dinner will be served buffet style at that location.  They both advised that there would not be more than one event at the winery and vineyard, not only because of the permit limitations, but because they do not want to attempt to orchestrate more than one event at the same time. 

            Mr. Alboum advised that given the history of this project, he was concerned that all of the people who had been involved as interested parties to the original permit had not been notified of this hearing so that they could voice their opinions and concerns.

            Mrs.  Farrington advised that they still need to go to Act 250 and at that time Act 250 will require that people they designated as interested parties be notified.  According to the Halifax Zoning Regulations the statutory requirements have been met.

            Mr. Alboum advised that there were many people who took issue with the project and their feelings and beliefs present an image and so when Honora asks for a change the question is raised about “what are they doing now? They got everything they wanted”.

He advised it is an image only, but he felt that they should live with things as they are for a longer period of time before coming to the Board and asking for changes.

            Mrs. Farrington and Mrs. Muha advised that as the business develops they learn more about what it takes to be a success.  When they started they had what they thought was a good concept of the tour bus business.  After two years, and a lot of research, the tour bus industry is teaching them what they need to have in order to succeed in this area.  They are before the Board for this specific request, not to go through the history of the project.  Mrs. Farrington advised that for some people no matter how much dialog transpires they will never change their minds or attitudes.  Therefore they should not be going over old ground, but moving on and considering this request.

            Mr. Pusey asked if there were two events scheduled for the same day, you would take the bus tour to the facility in Jacksonville, correct?

            Mrs. Farrington advised that was correct.

            Mr. Pusey asked why they requested 9:00 PM when Collette states 7:00 PM.

            Mrs. Farrington advised that this would cover future requests by other tour companies in the event they had different time requests.  It also would allow for delayed arrival of buses, which could happen, and is within the times allowed for weddings now.

            Mrs. LaFlamme advised they needed to move on asked Ms. Fenton, as an abutter to the property, if she had any comments.

            Ms. Fenton advised that she wished that this request had waited a little longer, but they are following the rules and this is her main concern.  She noted that Act 250 will be the next step and that all of the interested parties will be notified then and have an opportunity to weigh in.

            With no other comments Mrs. LaFlamme closed the public hearing at 7:40 PM.  She advised the Applicants that findings would be written and forwarded to them. 

Approval of Minutes 

            Mr. Alboum moved to accept the minutes of the August 10, 2010 meeting as written.
            Mr. Pusey seconded the motion which carried 4-0.

Review of Draft Findings for Hammarquist 

            The Board reviewed the findings and Mr. McNeice advised that some of the conditions they had discussed and approved were not included in this draft copy.  He advised that the wording he had offered at the deliberative session was an attempt to make things more clear.  He read the language he had offered and they agreed on the revisions and additions.  The final conditions were as follows:

1)      That the height of the structure shall not exceed 85 feet ;
2)      That no existing trees that screen the view from the abutting properties at 7941 Jacksonville Stage Road and 8231 Jacksonville Stage Road shall be removed;
3)      That in order to screen the view from the abutting property at 7941 Jacksonville Stage Road a row of White Pine trees shall be planted and maintained behind the deciduous trees at the front of the property;
4)      No exterior lighting shall be installed on or around the tower.
5)      At such time as the amateur radio equipment is no longer in use by the Applicant, or in the event that the property is sold or transferred, the tower structure and all peripheral equipment shall be dismantled and removed.

The members agreed to stop by the office on Friday to sign the revised set of findings.


            A motion was made, seconded, and unanimously approved to adjourn the meeting.


Respectfully submitted,
Phyllis H. Evanuk