BURKE — Neighbors of the historic Burklyn mansion are fighting the town’s approval to convert two barns into a restaurant/pub and caretaker’s cottage, across Darling Hill Road.
Five neighbors – Richard and Veronica Woodworth, Kimberly and William Patsos and Tabitha Bowling – hired Nicholas Low, an attorney with Tarrant, Gillies & Richardson in Montpelier, to challenge the Burke Development Review Board (DRB) decision to grant Midway Charter Ventures, LLC the permit to convert the barn for a restaurant/bar.
An appeal of the DRB decision has been filed in Vermont Superior Court’s Environmental Division, said Low, in an interview last week.
The DRB approved the contested use in February of this year. All five neighbors who are now appealing that ruling were at the town’s hearing on the matter, and signed in as interested parties, to give them the right to appeal the decision.
They are appealing the board permitting a tap house and caretaker’s cottage at 2864 Darling Hill Road, saying the permit application for the tap room “should be denied because it proposes a restaurant, tavern, or bar, none of which is allowed in the given zoning district.”
As to the caretaker’s cottage, the motion for summary judgment filed by the appellants says that application should have been denied, too, “because it is a single unit dwelling that does not conform with density requirements, and because it cannot be approved under any other provision.”
“Basically the kind of summary version of our position is that the property owner has proposed to build a restaurant/bar/pub, and our position is that that’s just now allowed under the zoning regulations,” Low said.
The appeal is not challenging the property owners’ plan to convert the historic mansion built by Elmer Darling into an inn.
“My clients are concerned about that development right on the street and traffic and noise,” said Low. “At a very basic level, it looks like it’s just not allowed under the regulations.”
“Hopefully in the next weeks we will see a decision from them either completely resolving the question or partly resolving,” said Low.
The inn and property across the street sit on 86 acres of land partly in Lyndon and partly in Burke.
According to the motion for summary judgment, the new plans call for a 55-seat restaurant and pub and the pub would have space for 100 guests. The site plan calls the business Elmer’s at Burklyn Restaurant and Bar, named for Elmer Darling, the mansion’s original owner and a philanthropist who bestowed much of his New York City hotel-earned fortune back in his hometown of Burke and the surrounding area.
The new owners of the inn have embarked on a major restoration and plans are to open the restored inn in 2020.
The inn, marketed initially for $4.5 million, ended up selling for $1,802,720.
James Crone, a California resident purchased the mansion.
Crone and his family are not planning to reside at the inn, and have family members who will do so and serve as the caretakers/managers of the property.
A response in opposition to the appellants’ motion for summary judgment was filed May 31 by the attorney for the inn’s owners.
The firm, Zalinger, Cameron & Lambek of Montpelier, argie that the DRB was correct in issuing its client conditional use approval to convert the two barns in question, saying the uses are “entirely consistent with the prior conditional use approval,” urging denial of the appeal.
“The record indicates that at the time of the first application, the Burke DRB was familiar with the (owner’s) potential future plans for operating a restaurant and having a caretaker’s cottage on the property,” the opposition to summary judgment reply states.
“On Jan. 21, 2019, MCV submitted an application to modify its conditional use permit for the conversion of two of the outbuildings into a restaurant and caretaker’s cottage,” the attorneys note, saying the activities and improvements are “directly related to and associated with the already approved Inn.”