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Farmers’ market gets DRB approval to expand

NECCA moves forward on plan for new campus

Updated on Friday, Feb. 7.

BRATTLEBORO—Two major local institutions are poised to expand.

The Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market received approval from the Development Review Board (DRB) on Jan. 22 to turn the former Planet Gas Station on 570 Western Ave. into a parking area for the market.

The New England School for Circus Arts (NECCA) also went before the DRB for a site plan review on Jan. 22 to construct a 130-by-85-foot building with an attached 1,296-square-foot two-story timber frame lobby for its new home near the former ReNew Salvage building on Town Crier Drive.

The DRB wants to hear more about plans before giving its approval, but the school is going ahead with fundraising efforts.

With the DRB’s approval of the Site Plan and Flood Hazard Approval application on Jan. 22, the farmers’ market can move forward with removing the gas pumps, demolishing the canopy, and removing the underground fuel tanks to create 30 new parking spaces.

The cost of this work is expected to come in at $10,000.

All the structures on the site will be removed except for the convenience store, which could be turned into a year-round market pending the approval of the market board and membership.

In the interim, the market plans to use the building for storage and to keep the bathrooms open for market patrons.

The lot that the gas station sits on is 1.1 acres, with 295 feet of frontage on Western Avenue. It sits next to a parking area that has been used by the Farmers’ Market that was put up for sale last year by its owner, Jonathan Chase.

Most of the land used by the market sits in the Whetstone Brook’s flood plain. The market currently owns one parcel of land, called the Mallory Lot, that it uses for parking near the Creamery Bridge.

The market is close to completing a deal with Green Mountain Power, which owns the land on which the market has its booths and eating area. That land, acquired by the utility in its recent merger with Central Vermont Public Service, had been a proposed site for a CVPS electrical substation.

The parcel that the market has leased from Chase fronts Western Avenue and is used as its upper parking lot. Although the organization has attempted to purchase the parking lot area, the organization and Chase have yet to settle on a price.

Bigger, better

NECCA, now at the Cotton Mill complex, has sought a bigger location for the school for several years. The organization bought a three-acre parcel, on Town Crier Drive off Putney Road, and owned by People’s United Bank, just last fall.

“The purchase was made possible by a generous gift, and it is an exciting move forward as NECCA envisions a purpose-built building for all of its programming,” according to the February issue of NECCA’s newsletter. “While no schedule has yet been determined for construction of the new facility, we expect to offer outdoor flying trapeze lessons on the new in-town site beginning this summer, 2014.”

The planned 15,000-square-foot structure will cost $1.2 million, and will be the first custom-built circus arts building in the United States.

Both the Farmers’ Market and NECCA are seeking funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program to complete their respective expansion projects.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #240 (Wednesday, February 5, 2014). This story appeared on page A3.

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