State regulators may revoke the Act 250 permit for a large shopping mall in Williston. The Environmental Board says the developers of Maple Tree Place failed to follow permit conditions when it built the project.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
There’s much about this case that’s unusual.
First, the Environmental Board is the group that wants to take away the developer’s permit. Usually, it’s an environmental organization or a neighbor who requests that a permit be revoked.
Second, the Environmental Board – which administers the Vermont’s development law – will act as the prosecutor and jury in the case. Board rules allow it to play both roles at the same time.
Because of the sensitive nature of the legal action, no one from the board would agree to be interviewed. But information in the Board’s own motion to revoke the permit says the controversy concerns the Best Buy store in Williston.
The large electronics retailer has a store right in the middle of the new development. According to the board, the store was supposed to face a central green. The idea was to give people the feeling of a village shopping area.
But the Board alleges the Best Buy building faces the wrong way. It looks out onto a large parking lot, not a village green. The Board also says the developer built a loading ramp on the wrong side of the building. It further charges that the front of the building was supposed to be one story tall. Instead, it’s two stories high.
Williston town planner Mike Munson says the town knew the developer planned changes to the project. Munson says he doesn’t know whether the Act 250 office was told of the changes.
(Munson) “They modified the building slightly to accommodate the Best Buy as a use, as a tenant. And that was when the loading ramp was moved. And the Best Buy seemed to require an entrance to the south. And it wasn’t my understanding that the original approval precluded an entrance to the south.”
A lawyer for the developer did not want to be interviewed. In a response filed with the Environmental Board, the lawyer says his client “has no intention of being inconsistent with the permit.”
The lawyer also says the project is not yet completed. He says the “aesthetic harmony” of the structures will become evident once the entire development is built and landscaped.
It’s not clear what the Board will do if it decides to pull the permit. But for now, Best Buy is open for business.
For Vermont Pubic Radio, I’m John Dillon.