NEWPORT CITY – The planning commission will discuss changing the bylaw for parts of the east side of the city.
Paul Dreher, Newport City Zoning Administrator, said some residential lots near Jackson Street are 10,000 square foot lots, but some are just under 20,000 square feet. As it is now, the owners of the larger lots can’t subdivide their property and build houses on them because the lots would be too small under the zoning laws.
“Technically speaking, I can’t actually give them a permit to put a subdivision lot,” said Dreher.
Some city officials suggested the commission consider changing the minimum lot size in light of the anticipated housing crunch created by the Jay Peak Resort developments in Newport City.
In one case, a woman would let her mother build a house next to hers.
Chair Charles Elliott wondered how planning commission members could change the bylaws without “opening a Pandora’s box.” Any change, he said, would affect the complete residential areas of the city.
Dreher suggested the planning commission make a minimum change to 9,500 or 9,200 square feet, but not 8,000 square feet.
Some of the people would like to build homes next year.
“If you said "no." it’s never going to happen. They might say, 'We’ll look someplace else,'" said Dreher.
If the planning commission holds the same setback requirements, the houses might be smaller and encourage two-story homes verses one-story homes. Elliott suggested the planning commission put a qualifier on the lots and if someone wants to put in a new development, he or she would have to abide by the 10,000 square foot regulation.
The planning commission will take up the issue at a future meeting.
The conversation briefly turned to building height regulations in the city.
“On Main Street, we let them go to the moon, as long as the fire truck can reach,” said commission member Clark Curtis.
The expansion of the Newport State Airport and the construction of a hotel and conference center where the Waterfront Plaza is now mean the city can host large capacity conferences, Dreher said.
“There is no place that has a conference center on a lake in rural Vermont,” said Dreher. He said conferences can be held in a in a large city or in the mountains of Vermont, next to a beautiful lake.
Curtis said people were talking about the project at a store when Tony Pomerleau, the owner of the shopping center, stepped up and said not to believe everything they heard and that he had not signed any papers yet.