Kids Moving Root Cellar Through Zoning…ADA Access Hits Bump

A few notes from zoning meetings this week for Woodstock Early Birds…

*Change The World Kids presented to and were cleared by the Village Design Review Committee for a root cellar to be built into the hillside behind the Woodstock Elementary School. The purpose is to grow and then keep vegetables for donation year-round. Change the World Kids presenters offered Design Review plans for the hillside “bunker” (which will be hardly visible and locked behind the school) saying they would like to help donate food to the Woodstock Food Shelf year-round and this would be a way to keep some vegetables through the winter from gardens they are currently maintaining.

*The Design Review Board cleared Brenda Benoit-Blakeman of First Impressions Hair Salon on the finer details of proposed changes to her building but not without a lengthy discussion about placement of shutters and placement of windows, whether or not a porch roof was in line and part of the original “look” of the building. The review hit a bit of a bump when very-closely placed next-door neighbors spoke up about how they are not enthused about a wheelchair access ramp plan for the back side of the building.  The Design Review Board is only tasked with the “look” of the building from public areas and not with ordinance and set-back issues that might be relevant to the ramp discussion. Those will be taken up by the Village Development Review Board next week.

Neighbor Glenn Legere said he was concerned about liability issues (slippery sidewalks and icicles) and the general visual effects of having a wheelchair ramp so closely placed to his own home on Pleasant Street and wondered why it was necessary to put in a ramp — in particular on that side of the building?

Blakeman, whose hair salon is on Central Street next to Tribou Park, made a very strong statement that she currently has two clients who use wheelchairs and wants to show that her business welcomes them. She also stated that since many Woodstock businesses are facing issues related to their lack of compliance with federal ADA access laws, she wanted to be a business role model for how ramps could be constructed and created even when affixed to older “historical” buildings such as her brick home and business.

There was discussion about why the ramp would not work anywhere else, but, again, those were not topics that were of particular concern to the “Design” people as opposed to the “Development” people.

Legere, who said he wasn’t against providing an ADA access ramp per se, said he would take his issues to the Development Board.

*A zoning matter also came up at the Woodstock Selectboard meeting when Diane Stott of  Westerdale Road in West Woodstock came in to complain publically about the zoning process she has been dealing with in getting changes made to a permit for the Town of Woodstock to store cut stone gravel on Town property at the Town Garage.  She, who is an abutter to the land,  said no one — at various stages of the permitting process — seemed to take her seriously or was particularly interested that this gravel pile area was near a wetland. Apparently the area is not labelled as wetland on Town maps. However, Stott said changes were finally made to the permit after she enlisted a State of Vermont wetlands expert to check out the area in question who confirmed that, indeed, it was an unmarked wetland that needed a buffer area or set-back.   Municipal Manager Phil Swanson said the permit was amended to reflect the presence of the wetland area. Stott said she wasn’t looking for any particular action from the Woodstock Selectboard but wanted them to be aware of her dissatisfaction with the zoning process.

Town officials say the gravel pile at the Town Garage will  be a pile without a pit — there will not be any digging.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Margaret (Peggy) Kannenstine on July 20, 2012 at 14:07

    Thanks for keeing us all informed. One small comment: :”wheelchair bound” is an obsolete usage, and considered insulting by many people with disabilities. Please use something like “wheelchair user” or “person in wheelchairs” instead—and spread the word.


  2. Posted by Patricia on July 20, 2012 at 14:12

    I think it should be pointed out that the neighbors to First Impressions are NOT concerned about the look of the ramp, they are concerned about the safety and liability issues, as one will have to cross their property to access the ramp. Large icicles form on the side of their house, which will make that entrance dangerous in the winter. Also, First Impressions was initially approved for two entrances, one on Central Street, and one on the Park side of the building. The entrance in question is not even supposed to be a business entrance, as it is on the residential side of the property.


    • Actually in reporting on the meeting – which you were not at – the neighbor who spoke said he was not thrilled with idea of looking at a ramp in addition to his safety concerns. While the primary reasons may be liability related, WEB stands by her reporting of comments made at the meeting. There were aesthetic concerns voiced which were specific to what the Design Review Board is concerned with. The other issues expressed by neighbors – as reported – were not relevant to the Board assembled.

      The question of doors and entrances will be addressed by a different group.



      • Posted by Brenda Blakeman on July 24, 2012 at 19:12

        Julia, thank’s for reporting the facts—the situation is by no means perfect but it is the best we can do with what we have, since being in this building, i have worked extremely hard to keep all sidewalks cleaned at all times, the sidewalk facing Tribout Park belongs to First Impressions–i am very aware of liability, i have taken measures to protect myself because of the situation with the sidewalk being used by people as if it belonged to the town— when i purchased the building, –i want people to feel free to use it. Both neighbors are only here part time, i keep all the walk ways cleared and salted, and the area in between the two buildings is known as a Common area, i have only tried to make things better since i have purchased the building, i keep the drain cleared out in front of the neighbors house so the water and slush in the winter does not flood or turn in to an ice skating rink, i pay attention to what goes on when they are not around, prior to me purchasing the building the neighbors used to look at washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc and i have tried to keep peace with the neighbors ,with the previous tenants, — i love our neighbor hood, and will continue to do what ever i can to improve my location, we all win!!!


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