UPDATES: DRB on Dollar General; Ballinger’s stinkin’ Kickstarter campaign; Winston art is selling

The five-member Chester Development Review Board decided at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 12 that it would begin deliberating the Dollar General case on Thursday, Aug. 29. The meeting is not open to the public.

In April 2012, the DRB had approved the construction of the proposed 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store.

From left, zoning administrator Michael Normyle, DRB chair Carla Westine and members Amy O'Neill, Heidi Ladd, Don Robinson and Harry Goodell.

From left, zoning administrator Michael Normyle, DRB chair Carla Westine and members Amy O’Neil, Heidi Ladd, Don Robinson and Harry Goodell. Click photo to enlarge.

But opponents of the project appealed the case to the state Superior Court Environmental Division. In June of this year, Judge Thomas Walsh sent the case back to the DRB, saying that he could not tell whether the decision was correct because the DRB did not include enough information to bolster its conclusions.

The DRB, an independent, quasi-judicial body that makes decisions on development issues based on zoning criteria, has the option of starting  the hearings from scratch, seeking further information in the form of testimony and exhibits or simply reviewing the transcripts and supporting documents. It can either uphold or strike down the previous decision.  But what it must do is to present full and reasoned  written arguments in either case. Once it has finished its task, the results will be returned to Judge Walsh, who will then rule.

At the meeting on Monday, board chair Carla Westine called the deliberative session the “first opportunity that the individual members will have to take a look” at the transcripts together. The individual members have all read the transcripts.   She added, “We may find it sufficient. We may find it insufficient and seek more testimony. As you can imagine, the process can take time. ”

A dust-up occurred when Shawn Cunningham*, who has been helping to lead a grassroots organization, Smart Growth Chester, against the construction of the Dollar General, asked to speak as part of the public comments portion required of any open government meeting. After thanking the body for reading the record, he told the board that within the transcripts they will see that “only one expert witness” studied the area, the zoning regulations and the Town Plan in regard to conditional use ordinance concerning the adverse effect on the character of the area.

Several board members loudly interrupted, contending that this was “new testimony,” which would be unacceptable to hear. But Cunningham said he was just clarifying old testimony.

He was reading from a written statement that said, “We ask that you please review and refer to Jean’s testimony with the understanding that Zaremba did not meet its burden of proof and did not refute Jean’s conclusion.” He was referring to Jean Vissering, an expert in landscape architecture and land use issues. He then said his group, Smart Growth Chester, would be submitting proposed findings and conclusions taken from the transcript, and asked when it would be proper to submit them.

Before moving on to other business, Westine said, “At this point, we are not accepting anything else. This will take a lot of baby steps.”

Smart Growth Chester has also appealed the granting of a land use permit by the District 2 Act 250 Commission. The appeal is scheduled to be heard from Sept. 10 to 12 at the Courthouse in Newfane, at 7 Court St.

  • Nothing to sniff at: Ballinger’s Kickstarter campaign funded

Breadwig insideB

ryan Ballinger reached 107 percent of his Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 to publish his flatulent scratch and sniff children’s book, Animal Gas. Following 30 days of the campaign, which ended Thursday Aug. 8, he had 187 supporters donating $21,383. The Chester Telegraph wrote about “Breadwig” Ballinger (Bryan Ballinger is trying to raise a STINK!) and his campaign two weeks ago. The former Chester resident and notable children’s book illustrator expects to have the book published in November. Copies will be donated to Chester Andover Elementary School and the Whiting Library.

In an email message, Ballinger said, “My Kickstarter did come right down to the wire! I was about 8K short of my 20K goal with just a few days to go. So I decided to ad an extra super duper reward. For 9K I’d illustrate someone’s whole picture book for them. And some(one) pledged for it!” He added that his next move is to pick out the proper smells for each page. “Once that’s done I just have to send in the final art and (the books) will enter production. I am shooting for November delivery for the books, so they can easily be given out as Christmas gifts. ”

  • Paintings from Winston collection are selling

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nn Summers of Chester Bookworm tells us that 11 of the 52 paintings from the collection of Jean and George Winston have already sold.  We wrote about Galen Pinkham and his aunt and uncle, two prolific watercolorists who were members of the Chester Art Guild, two weeks ago. (LIFE IN WATERCOLORS: Winston painting sale evokes memories of the Chester Art Guild) The Chester Bookworm is displaying the works for sale. The store, 330 Main St. in Chester, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, for those who want to shop or to just see a bit of Chester history.

— Cynthia Prairie

*Shawn Cunningham is married to Cynthia Prairie, of The Chester Telegraph.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Cynthia Prairie says:

    Yes, it is since it is a deliberative session.

  2. Diana Ashworth says:

    Is it legal for the Chester Development Review Board to close their August 29th meeting to the public?