Posted by Jim Donovan on Oct 10, 2018
Charlotte Shelburne Hinesburg Rotary Meeting
Wednesday, October 10, 2018,
Trinity Community Room, Shelburne, Vermont.
Meeting Notes
President Erik opened the meeting at 7:15 AM and led the pledge of allegiance.
Announcements and Business:
  • Erik led the club in reciting the 4-way Test and then reminded us to check in on FaceBook.
  • Linda G. announced that work on the shed would be continuing on October 13. 
  • Chris D. announced that volunteers would work on the pond at Shelburne Town Hall at 8:30 AM on October 13 - bring boots, gloves and other protection from the water and the weeds.  There are currently five volunteers signed up.
  • Richard F. said that there was a sign-up sheet going around to volunteer for the numerous tasks to prepare for the Halloween parade.   
  • Sam noted that the last farmers market was on Saturday.
  • Linda G. let everyone know that the Shelburne Players would be putting on Sleeping Indoors a “Dramedy.”
  • Trafton officially handed the check book to Margo, who is incoming treasurer. 
  • Roz G. announced that the Shelburne Business Association would be having its second public work session at Willow House next Wednesday, October 17.  She also announced a meeting on the Village Dog Park on Friday at the Town Office. 
There were 40 $1.00 happy fines paid.  The pot rolled over.
The speaker this week was by Jeff Nicks, local realtor and 30-year Shelburne resident.  He provided an overview of his career and thoughts on the Burlington area real estate market.  He noted that he spoke before the CSH Rotary in 2003 seeking funding help for the dugouts at the little league field behind the Shelburne Town Office.  The club donated $1,500 at that time. 
Jeff grew up on Long Island, NY and had numerous odd jobs in his youth.  He came to UVM in 1976, thinking he would be a planner.  He found that that was not the career path for him and tried other options.  While bartending, he met a developer and real estate person.  They formed a company - J.L Davis, which focused on commercial development, real estate sales, and property management.  He has had experience in all of these areas because our market is too small to focus on just one of them.  He helped to plan and develop Tafts Corners, noting that all communities of this size have a big box area.  He has worked on the Market Place commission.  There were fears that the Tafts Corners development would kill the Church Street market, but it did not.  Their company has also worked for numerous larger national businesses, helping them find the right locations in Vermont. 
He mentioned that Starbucks will be going into the Hearthside Restaurant site in Rutland, and will be tearing down the existing building. 
He has also done his own projects, including the Mid-Town Motel in Burlington.  He has had various ideas for the property over the years, but nothing has come through yet.  He is waiting for the right thing to come along.  He closed with an invitation to ask questions. 
The first was asking about his thoughts on what is happening in downtown Burlington.  Construction has stopped on the new development and he is not sure when it will start again.  Jeff has been a supporter of the plan since it was introduced. 
The next question asked about what real estate people thought about Shelburne Road.  Jeff replied that zoning can be a challenge in Shelburne; he said that many uses are not allowed by zoning.  It is especially challenging because there is currently vacant office space in existing buildings.  He also noted that the road median, which creates a good welcoming image, is tough on retail businesses along the road.  He thought that the bowling alley has something potentially happening.  No one seems to know what will happen to the Sirloin Saloon building or site.  It appears that the demographics won’t make something new work there.  He thinks that it will probably be torn down.  It needs to be a destination to make it work with the median. 
He was asked about the K-Mart site and Hannaford’s.  Jeff said that he know a lot about that project but was not sure how much he could say.  He did mention that Hannaford’s owns it and is just going into the K-mart portion of the building and is not planning on changing the foot print or anything on the outside of the building.  This will allow them to avoid having to provide new stormwater treatments or go through an Act 250 review.  He thinks that they might do something to remove the homeless camp that is behind the store. 
He thinks it is not a good use of the property.  He believes that the property could be improved and expanded but that the current Vermont laws do not encourage that sort of thinking.  Act 250 was a good law when it was passed, but it needs to be updated and refined.  He noted that it is often used for the wrong things. He noted in general that it is not a good time for retail, due to the increase in online shopping. 
In response to another question, Jeff commented on Maple Tree place, noting that it took a very long time for the site to be developed.  When it was going in, they did a survey in Williston.  The results showed an even split in the Town; native Vermonters wanted it and the non-natives did not.  The final design was more by committee and he thinks that it is consequently a mish-mash of ideas and not a very good overall design.  He does not think that it works as well as it could. 
President Erik closed the meeting with a thank you to Jeff for his talk.