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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.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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