MONTPELIER — The state is looking to add 90 parking spaces at the Labor Department off Memorial Drive because it is losing its lease on the Carr Lot downtown, which is being developed.
The state Department of Buildings and General Services went before the Development Review Board on Monday for site plan review of its proposal to expand an existing parking area into what is now an adjacent grassy area.
The Carr Lot, which the city owns and leases to the state, is to be turned into the 1 Taylor St. development featuring a multimodal transit and welcome center with several floors of private commercial or residential space.
About two-thirds of a grassy area near the Labor Department at 5 Green Mountain Drive would be converted into 115 parking spaces and the existing 290-space lot reconfigured somewhat, yielding a net gain of 90 spaces, the plans show.
Board members raised questions about the planned use, the fate of public spaces used for bike path access, and security during the public hearing Monday.
“If somebody pulls into these newly created spaces, will it be clear that they can or cannot park there? I know that in the Carr Lot there is an actual security guard that will stop you from parking there,” said Daniel Richardson, a Development Review Board member.
Signs at the lot make clear it is a state lot for authorized users only, said Tabrena Karish, a project manager for the state.
With concerns also raised about increased traffic, the board in the end agreed to have the state return at its July 7 meeting with more information. The board requested that the Vermont Agency of Transportation review the plans and the traffic study in light of the fact that the parking area will empty onto a state highway, explained Assistant Zoning Administrator Dina Bookmyer-Baker on Thursday.
Board Chairman Phil Zallinger said at the hearing that, while the traffic study shows a slight reduction in the “level of service” at the intersection, “it’s only at the peak evening hour.” “As one member of the board, I don’t think it’s significant enough to impact my view of this proposal,” he said.
The traffic study by Dubois & King concluded that “the traffic volumes are insufficient to warrant installing a traffic signal, that an eastbound left turn lane is warranted, but costly, where a safety issue is not indicated,” and that the level of service meets state Agency of Transportation guidelines, according to a report that Bookmyer-Baker prepared for the board.
The board also asked for more information at its next meeting about a lighting plan and the stormwater drainage system.
Board alternate Kate McCarthy asked about using more vegetation buffers to help with stormwater control and expressed concern over adding that much impervious surface so near the river in an area where flooding is a concern.
“The project narrative states that the existing floodway will not be affected as the finish grade of the proposed parking area will not be raised above the existing grade,” Bookmyer-Baker’s report says.
The application includes a stormwater plan showing steps that will be taken to reduce runoff, including use of an “infiltration gallery” — underground system that stores runoff and slowly releases it.
“The parking area is not connected to the municipal storm drain system, but storm water flows to the Winooski River,” Bookmyer-Baker’s report states.
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