When we first purchased Stonehurst, it was evident that about six different trees needed to be removed, as they were much too close to the house. Not wanting them to go to waste, we sawed what we could into lumber and trimmed the rest for fire wood. One of the trees was a Norway Spruce, so Ken didn’t have his eye on it for furniture. So, we decided it would be perfect lumber to make some bird nesting boxes. We called in the help of Vince Johnson, of Vernon, who set up his portable sawmill on site. He was able to get a good amount out of that Spruce tree and we had plenty for our project.
Part of Stonehurst is potentially creating a nature center and we will always look for ways to preserve the natural habitat for all the native species on the property. With Stonehurst having a fair amount of open fields, it is a perfect habitat for the Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallows, both cavity nesters. Also, the field edges would make a good spot for some Black Capped Chickadee nest boxes.
We found a bluebird nesting box plan and some members of the Green Team took over Ken’s workshop. We made a bunch of nesting boxes for the bluebirds, but ran out of time for the chickadees, so that’s something that we will get back to. The next step is to get out to the fields to mount these in just the right places. We want to get them up before the end of March, which is typically the time these species start to look for a nesting place. We will report on that in the coming weeks as well as keep you updated as these nest boxes become occupied.
Act 250, Water and Building Permits Good to Go
Woohoo! After 5 months of working through engineering and architectural plans for our sustainable Vermont furniture showplace, we have finally been approved by the state of Vermont to begin renovations at Stonehurst. YAY! It’s really not so easy renovating an historic property for commercial use in Vermont but we think it’s worth the trouble.
Vermont requires three permits for this kind of endeavor: a detailed environmental assessment called the Act 250 permit, a water and wastewater permit and a building permit. Together with supporting documentation, the three permits create a stack of paper about a foot high, requiring an army of expert consultants to complete them. And we’re not done. There are many caveats and contingencies that will have to be satisfied as we progress. Ken and I never imagined this extreme when we purchased the building. It was our architect, Jeremy Coleman who walked us through the maze of bureaucracy and red tape and patiently explained the codes and our compliance options.
Vermont’s Complex Building Regulations
At first we were in disbelief at the overwhelming extent of requirements and expense to comply with Vermont’s complex codes. There are several government agencies to deal with and get approval from. Sometimes they are at odds with each other. But as we finally get to a point where our plans have been approved and renovations can begin I guess we are beginning to see some method to the madness.
Stonehurst is Worth the Trouble
After all Vermont is a very special place for nature lovers and we want it to always stay that way. Detailed environmental and building regulations help to ensure that. Like many Vermont businesses, Vermont Woods Studios is built on a green mission. Ours is forest conservation and environmental preservation, so (in spite of the high cost of regulations) I can’t imagine finding a more suitable home for it than Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont.
Stay tuned for more updates on our sustainable furniture showroom over the next couple months and plan to visit us for an open house in the early summer. Till then keep updated by subscribing to this blog or visiting our Facebook.
See you at the Grand Opening (TBA)!