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In re Howard Center Renovation Permit

Supreme Court of Vermont

June 13, 2014

In re Howard Center Renovation Permit (South Burlington School District, Appellant)

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Environmental Division. Thomas G. Walsh, J.

Pietro J. Lynn and Sean M. Toohey of Lynn, Lynn & Blackman, P.C., Burlington, for Appellant.

Franklin L. Kochman of F.L. Kochman, Inc., Burlington, for Appellee.

Matthew F. Valerio, Defender General, and Anna Saxman, Deputy Defender General, Montpelier, for Amicus Curiae HowardCenter, Inc.

Arline P. Duffy and Eric S. Miller of Sheehey Furlong & Behm P.C., Burlington, for Amicus Curiae Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services, Inc.

William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, Montpelier, and Bessie Weiss, Assistant Attorney General, Burlington, for Amicus Curiae Vermont Department of Health.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Robinson and Crawford, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1014

 Skoglund, J.

[¶1] South Burlington School District (District) appeals from an environmental court decision approving Howard Center, Inc.'s application for interior renovations to an existing medical office to accommodate a new methadone clinic. The District contends the court erroneously concluded that: (1) the clinic was a permitted " medical office" use under the South Burlington Land Development Regulations and therefore did not require site-plan or conditional-use review; (2) the Traffic Overlay provisions of the Regulations did not apply to the permit application; and (3) general safety concerns were not a permissible consideration under the Regulations in reviewing the permit application. We affirm.

[¶2] The material facts are not in dispute. For a number of years, Howard Center has operated two out-patient clinics that provide medically supervised methadone and buprenorphine maintenance treatment for those with opioid dependence: one, which has operated since 2002, is located at the University Health Center (UHC) on South Prospect Street in Burlington, and the other, since 2011, at the office of the former Twin Oaks Counseling Service in South Burlington.

[¶3] As part of a plan to relocate the Twin Oaks office and reduce the patient load at the UHC office, Howard Center entered into a lease for about 10,000 square feet of office space in an existing medical office on Dorset Street in South Burlington, and the following month submitted a building-permit application for interior renovation of the office space. The office is situated within one of several buildings on a 2.2-acre parcel and is part of a multi-unit, multi-use development originally approved by the City as a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The property lies within the City's Central District 2 (CD 2) zoning district, in which " Office, Medical" is a permitted use. Land Development Regulations (2012) (Regulations), app. C. The Regulations define the latter as " [a]ny ...


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