Brandon evaluates plans for new laundromat


BRANDON—Since Dirty Work laundromat closed during the pandemic, Brandon has been without a publicly accessible laundry facility for local residents who don’t have washers and dryers at home.  The lack of such facilities in town has become a cause for those concerned about Brandon’s livability, since the closest laundromats are now in Rutland and Middlebury.

On Wednesday, March 27, Brandon’s Development Review Board (DRB) held a hearing to review a proposal for a new laundromat at the corner of High Street and Route 7, across from Green Mountain Garage.  Currently empty, the .68-acre parcel was once the site of a car wash and is now owned by the National Bank of Middlebury.

The prospective developers, Douglas Cummings, Justin Brown, and Allyson Brown, all local residents who own other commercial real estate in Brandon, sought permission from the DRB to construct a laundromat with parking on the site.  The project would require a Commercial I conditional-use permit from the town because the lot is in a Neighborhood Residential District.

The developers noted on their application that they felt “there is a significant need for this project to serve the [Brandon] community and surrounding communities.”

According to the application, the building will be 32’ by 72’.  The first floor will be occupied by the laundromat and a potential second floor would contain residential apartments, though the application before the DRB was for the first-floor laundromat and parking lot alone.  The building will be 26 feet tall if one story and 36 feet tall if two stories.  The building and parking lot would occupy 38% of the lot’s total surface area.  The total estimated cost of the building and parking lot is $750,000, according to the application.

The proposed laundromat would contain 13 to 15 commercial washing machines and 16 to 18 commercial dryers of various capacities.  The machines would be card-operated only.  Debit cards will be available for cash purchase on site.  The developers also stated that they were considering wash-and-fold service with pick-up and delivery.  The facility would be open 7 days per week with a security system and a part-time attendant.  

The applicants did not present any architectural renderings of the building, stating that they were waiting for the town approval to move ahead with the project before committing additional resources to hiring an architect.  However, they also stated that they intended to avoid an industrial appearance.  Ms. Brown referenced “barn door” to describe the anticipated aesthetic.

DRB Chair Samantha Stone noted that the hearing had drawn an unusually large number of attendees, attesting to the great local interest in the project.  Among those in attendance was David Steinberg, who owns the house immediately adjacent to the project site on High Street.  Mr. Steinberg expressed support for the project but had come to the hearing to seek assurances from the DRB that no permit would be given unless certain conditions were met.

Mr. Steinberg’s list of conditions focused mostly on protecting his home from the unwanted effects of an adjacent business operation. Among other requests, he asked for privacy fencing to be installed at the developers’ expense.  Mr. Steinberg sought to keep dumpsters and portable toilets away from his property line.  He asked for filters to keep the smell of detergent to a minimum.

But Mr. Steinberg’s biggest concern was the extra traffic that the facility would bring to the neighborhood and pointed out that because a stone wall at the intersection of High Street and Route 7 impaired visibility, any increased traffic exiting the laundromat on High Street posed a danger.  Initially, Mr. Steinberg insisted that all vehicles enter and exit on Route 7 only but seemed open to DRB member Bob Clark’s suggestion that High Street could be made entrance-only, with all vehicles exiting onto Route 7.

The developers stated that they had not yet commissioned a traffic study but estimated that 15 to 20 vehicles per day would visit the site.

Brandon Economic Development Officer Bill Moore offered his support for the project, noting that it would fill the void left by the closure of Dirty Work.  Brandon Zoning Administrator Jeff Biasuzzi commended the developers on their application but also stated that any residential development on the site would require a separate application and hearing.

The DRB ultimately voted to close the hearing and deliberate. The Board will have to decide whether to grant the conditional-use permit and, if so, under what conditions.  The DRB has 45 days to issue its decision.  

In the meantime, the DRB encouraged the developers and Mr. Steinberg to meet and work out a mutually acceptable plan that would allow the project to move forward if the permit is issued. 

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