Charlotte officials vote to consider changing local landmark's z - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Charlotte officials vote to consider changing local landmark's zoning regulation

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Zoning issues usually don't draw a crowd at select board meetings, but a large turnout is expected at the town offices in Charlotte because a local landmark is asking for a change.

The Old Lantern in Charlotte is a local institution used as a community center, campground, the site of auctions, concerts and fundraisers. It was built in 1960, five years before there were any zoning laws in the books. This area is now zoned residential, but the Old Lantern use has been grandfathered by the town. Lisa and Roland Gaujac bought it in 2006 and it has become a popular wedding venue.

"Last year we had 70, it was our highest year we were pretty, excited mostly weddings," said Lisa. 

But with the weddings came music that was too loud for some.

One of the most vocal opponents is the Old Lantern's neighbor. The neighbor's property starts right across the driveway. These are the folks who have a real problem with the noise from the weddings.

"You can see the numbers going well over 70, 71. The music goes up and down," said Maura Wygman, a neighbor.

Wygman and her husband recorded decibel readings from the wedding music to prove it exceeds 70 decibels, which is the town zoning law.

Now, the Old Lantern is petitioning the town to hold a vote to change the existing zoning in the West Charlotte Village District.

"This issue was brought forward by a petition submitted by the owners of the Old Lantern to change the town land use regulations in order to allow a new use in town called 'event facility' and allow this use be considered 'allowed by right,' which would mean no permit is needed," said Dean Bloch, Charlotte town administrator.

And that zoning change has some worried.

"I believe the petition sets a poor precedent in town. I don't think that any one property owner should be allowed to circumvent the standards that everyone else in town has held to," Wygman said.

Neighbor Allison Wolverton had this concern: "I believe that it also would undermine the integrity and enforceability of the land use regulations and also that would then lead to a diminishment of property values townwide."

While the proposed zoning change might divide the community, there is one thing both sides do agree on.

"I would like to say that it is very important to understand that the neighbors do not wish to see the Old Lantern close," said Wolverton.

Lisa Gaujac: I don't want people to be afraid that the Old Lantern is in danger of not operating because that is not the case, we will continue paying law fees forever, it's kind of annoying we would rather not.

Reporter Judy Simpson: But you say there is no structural change planned. 

Lisa Gaujac: No, no.

After the meeting, Lisa Gaujac told WCAX News the town has agreed to have the planning commission draft up a new zoning recommendation and submit it to the board.

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