Hartford Board OKs Including All of ATM Lobby as Part of Building Property

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/29/2019 10:34:23 PM

White River Junction — The next owners of 155 Maple St. may not have a guaranteed tenant, but it will at least own the entirety of the building.

The Hartford Planning Commission last week approved a lot line adjustment that cedes approximately 245 square feet to the owners of the property formerly occupied by a Citizens Bank branch that closed almost two years ago.

Pending a 30-day appeal period, the adjustment will grant the property the entirety of the ATM lobby area of the building, part of which encroaches on town owned land.

While various land surveys — including one in 2013 performed when the nearby Co-op Food Store reconfigured its parking lot — reveal the approximately 5½-foot encroachment, one assessed in 2006 appears to have erroneously granted extra land to the property at 155 Maple, currently owned by real estate investment firm CRE JV Mixed Five VT Branch Holdings, a subsidiary of Phoenix-based VEREIT, Inc.

That 2006 survey grants the property the entirety of the building’s exterior lobby as well as four parking spaces near the entrance that are actually owned by the town. Those spots, as well as additional parking spots north of the building that patrons of the bank and tenants of the Co-op building have traditionally shared, are granted use by the town without a lease.

The building, constructed in 1975 and always used as a bank, was purchased by CRE JV Mixed Five VT Branch Holdings from Citizens in 2006 for $1.42 million, according to ownership history listed on the website of Vision Government Solutions.

The property is currently in a purchase and sales agreement pending the boundary resolution, according to Tim White of Burlington-based real estate firm White & Burke.

White, who would not name the prospective buyer, said the property had drawn interest from “five or six people” following the February 2017 closing of Citizens Bank.

Chris Blanchard, a Rutland-based lawyer representing CRE JV Mixed Five VT Branch Holdings, refused comment about the boundary adjustment, citing a pending litigation settlement between the company and the surveyor.

While refusing to characterize the 2006 survey as erroneous, White River Junction-based lawyer Rob Manby, who represented the town during the boundary adjustment application process, indicated that land infringement can inadvertently occur during small building expansion projects.

“It’s not fair to say it often happens, but sometimes people build improvements that result in encroachments,” Manby said.

Any business other than a bank would need an administrative permit from Hartford’s zoning board of adjustment, according to ZBA director Jo-Ann Ells.

Since Citizens closed, no interested party has approached her office with such a request, she noted.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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