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Exit 4 Developer Must Submit New Plan

Developer Jesse Sammis (center) wants to use open land he owns near Exit 4 for a large mixed-use project.

Developers are being sent back to the drawing board in their plans for Exit 4 on I-89 in Randolph.  

The District Three Environmental Commission has been conducting a partial review of the 172-acre mixed-use development under Act 250, focusing on the impact on farming and prime agricultural land and whether the proposal meets local and regional plans.

After holding two hearings, the commission issued a recess order telling developer Jesse Sammis to submit a revised plan that is more compact and preserves more open fields.   

Peter Van Oot, an attorney for Sammis, calls the order "fair and appropriate."

Van Oot says a more compact design will involve balancing local zoning requirements and criteria which the commission isn’t currently considering – like protecting views, which rules out making buildings taller.

He says its unclear whether the development will have to be smaller than the original 1.15 million square-foot plan.

“That’s always a consideration. If you cluster and consolidate more and you don’t go up, you might lose square footage. Those are the type of issues we’re trying to balance,” says Van Oot.

The commission also wants more information on other Randolph properties owned by Sammis that might be appropriate for some of the housing, office and light industrial development proposed for Exit 4.

David Hurwitz with Exit 4 Open Space, a local group that opposes the project, says the group's concerns extend beyond protecting farmland and include how the project could affect Randolph’s downtown.

“There has been no request to actually reduce the size of the development, so we’re still concerned,” says Hurwitz.

Brian Shupe, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council said in an email that the recess order, "makes perfectly clear" that the project did not meet the Act 250 criterion concerning preservation of prime agricultural land. 

"We are disappointed that the Commission did not deny the project outright and will be making that case to them," said Shupe.

The district environmental commission has given the developer until Aug. 17 to submit a new plan and documents concerning other properties owned by Sammis.

A third hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Sept. 25.

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