On October 3, 2018

Former Cortina Inn files Act 250 application

By Julia Purdy

MENDON—An application for a land use permit has been filed with the Act 250 District Commission by Long Trail Engineering P.C. on behalf of the owner of the former Cortina Inn, Bhatka Development Company, LLC.

The hearing before the Natural Resources Board for District 1 was held Sept. 12 at the Mendon town office, following a site visit that day.

Ravi Bhakta bought the Cortina Inn in 2009, said Patrick Kitchin, Bhakta’s live-in general manager.

“We paid a company in Florida to do a market study. We have an aging demographic in Vermont. Facilities here are either full or have waiting lists. This was a good way to take this. There was a need for it.”

Ravi Bhakta already owns nine residential care facilities elsewhere, Kitchin added. “This is an expansion of what he’s already doing.”

The application seeks approval for Phase 1 of the conversion of the landmark inn in Mendon to a residential care facility. Other than installing a water storage tank for the existing well, “no other exterior construction is proposed” for the initial phase of the project, the application said.

Other renovations will be equally conservative, and the general appearance will remain the same as now. Existing hotel guest rooms will be combined with private bathrooms for 49 residents. The existing footprint and buildings will be preserved, as will the grounds, consisting of the tennis court, pond, parking lot and lawns. The application does not contemplate any changes to the building exterior or the 13-acre wooded hillside behind the building. The pond shoreline will remain undisturbed and all exposed ground will be “covered with topsoil, seeded and mulched” to help prevent erosion.

Responses were made to the 10 criteria established by the Agency of Natural Resources for how a project will fit into the existing fabric of the community and protect the environment.

Citing the town plan goal to encourage a wide range of businesses, the application explains that the proposal is not a new development and also will operate year round, benefiting the town’s economy. In line with town and regional goals of supporting public transit and encouraging its use, employees, residents and visitors can use The Bus, which travels up Route 4 on a regular schedule, and “shuttles will be provided to residents to take them into Rutland, reducing the need for cars,” the application notes.

Responding to items in the Rutland Regional Plan, the application explains that “The project improves livability by allowing current area residents who can no longer live on their own the opportunity to stay within their area” and “helps meet the regional need for residential care.”

According to District #1 Coordinator Bill Burke, the commission has reviewed the application and is now waiting for an Agency of Natural Resources water supply permit and a wastewater permit, which will be incorporated.

The application estimates the construction cost is $500,000.

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