The developer planning a large mixed-use project at the Randolph exit of I-89 will meet with the environmental groups opposing the plan to try to reach a compromise.
The Conservation Law Foundation and Vermont Natural Resources Council have argued against the project before the District 3 Environmental Commission.
Late last week, the commission decided to delay its decision after lawyers for the developer asked for extra time to talk with the organizations, “to explore informal and non-adversarial resolution of the contested issues.”
VNRC Executive Director Brian Shupe says any acceptable compromise would result in a scaled-back development that preserves prime farmland at the site.
“To be very honest I think that farming is the best use for that location. It’s an extremely scenic site, it has high quality soils. That would be our preference but we also recognize that the property owner does have some rights to development,” says Shupe.
Because no actual construction is currently proposed, the commission’s review is limited to the impact of the planned development on agricultural land and whether it meets local and regional plans.
In letters sent to the commission last week, both the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets raised concerns about the project.
The agency said the developer’s plan does not satisfy the default requirements for mitigating the impact on prime agricultural soils and said the commission would have to determine whether "appropriate circumstances" exist to authorize suitable farmland mitigation.
The regional commission said the developer has not provided enough information to determine whether the proposed project conforms with regional plans.
The district environmental commission has given the parties until Feb. 18, 2016 to file additional documents.