Dollar General proposed for Zachary’s property

The Chester Development Review Board is in the process of assessing plans by the corporation that owns the Dollar General chain to build a 9,100-square-foot store on the eastern edge of the parking lot of Zachary’s Pizza House, 319 Main St.

The 10-acre parcel along VT Rt. 103, which is owned by Zachary’s, would be subdivided to accommodate the Dollar General. The Dollar General then would purchase more than an acre to construct the building and parking, separate from Zachary’s, to accommodate 31 spaces.

About 50 residents attended the Aug. 8 DRB meeting, which began to address the issues of the subdivision and conditional use. Following an almost two-hour meeting, the board continued those issues till Monday, Sept. 12.

According to representatives of the Dollar General corporation, the initial plan is for the peaked-roof store to face Main Street. The store name in individual letters would be lit from the top with down-lights. Lights would turn on at 7 a.m. and turn off at 10 p.m., with the store hours set for 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week.  Parking lot lights would be 16 feet tall. Zachary’s parking lot lights are 12 feet tall.

Below the sign would be the glass front door straddled by two faux windows.

About 15 residents spoke during the meeting, asking questions about everything from landscaping and a large tree at the front of the property to the noise created by the air conditioner/condenser. A Dollar General representative said, “If the tree becomes a safety issue, Dollar General will cut it back or down.”

Others asked questions concerning delivery truck trips (one semi per week plus smaller trucks) and how many jobs it would create (“seven to 15”).

Many of those who spoke expressed frustration, feeling that the opinions of those who oppose the project would not be taken into consideration, no matter how large the opposition.

The next DRB meeting addressing the issue will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 at Town Hall, at Route 103 and Elm Street.

Wish to comment on the issue? Scroll down, fill in the Comments blanks, then submit.


In the meantime, a number of citizens have formed a group called Smart Growth Chester to address concerns with the Dollar General plan and its implications for the future of Chester. Smart Growth Chester has already received a financial commitment from Preservation Trust Vermont to put together a research team to look into the impact of such stores on similar small towns.

For more information about this effort, contact Shawn Cunningham at

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Filed Under: Business & Personal FinanceDollar General

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia 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, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Mary says:

    If you check, Manchester does have a Dollar Tree store right in downtown. Is that not a very similar type of store as a Dollar General? And how has that store had a negative impact on that quaint tourist-attracting Vermont village? I was born and raised in Chester, lived in Chester and have lived in other states and areas from city to small town, and have not sensed it being more negative than positive, and am not aware of local businesses being forced out of business. If you are concerned that allowing a Dollar General in town will bring the large box stores that can mar the quaint Vermont village, I do not believe that this area has the population density that will cause large box stores to want to locate in our rural town and cause our local business to close. I believe that a store of this type would be a plus for the area and not affect the specialized local businesses significantly. Also, where is the concern for our senior citizens who do not have easy access to shop? My belief is that the positives out-weigh the potential negatives and my family and I do not oppose this business in Chester.

  2. Wayne says:

    Very well thought out and spoken argument. Thank you. Says all I wanted to say.

  3. Brian says:

    If you really want to see more for sale signs in town (and houses that sit and never sell), by all means open a Dollar General Store. Ultimately, this will result in less tax revenue for the town, as housing prices and sales will drop. We need to work to rebuild this town through more businesses with local character — newer places like the Pizza Stone, MacLaomainns, Country Girl and Stone Hearth succeed with local appeal. Dollar General is a disaster for Chester — a long, slow trek to becoming a formerly wonderful town.

  4. Kathy says:

    What could a Dollar General store add to Chester? A few minimum wage jobs? A large, generic box construction that deviates little no matter where it is planted? An eyesore in the midst of a town that has fought hard to maintain her identity as the “quintessential Vermont town?” Why does Dollar General feel the need to build a store one town over from where another exists? Can our small, locally owned businesses compete against a company of Dollar General’s size and buying power? Has anyone looked closely at the towns where Dollar General currently operates; and if so, what adjectives best describes those towns? Depressed, shabby, run-down, borderline and dismal are a few that spring to mind. What image would do the residents, business owners and elected officials want tourists to come away with: A town full of inns and Victorian grace so charming that a Hallmark movie was filmed there or another forlorn town on its way downhill? Choose wisely dear neighbors. Once Pandora’s box has been opened, you can’t turn back.

  5. Jody P. says:

    I agree with Mary. There is already a Dollar General in Springfield. A different store chain, one to draw the people to Chester, one that isn’t offered in the next town. But I also have to agree that it will kill the small town feel if anything like that does go there. Chester is my hometown. I grew up there and it is the place I love because of the small-town feel.

  6. Chris M. says:

    A Dollar General store seems to me to be totally out of character for Chester. With Dollar General and Family Dollar stores located nearby in Springfield, what can one in our little town possibly contribute?

  7. Lily says:

    Please keep your town as the wonderfully quaint town that it is…. Stores of this size and nature WILL kill your local family-run businesses, and it will certainly have an impact upon us out-of-town tourists who love to come to visit the town that you have now.

  8. Donna says:

    A Dollar General in Chester? How preposterous! The first time I heard it I thought it was a joke. And there is already a Dollar General down the street in Springfield as well as a Family Dollar. I have spoken with a lot of people about this and have not heard one person in favor of this! Let us continue to grow, but not in the wrong direction. We have a nice, quaint town with a lot of businesses that we enjoy patronizing. Let’s not ruin our beautiful town and hurt the businesses that we enjoy so much.

  9. Chris says:

    Why doesn’t the town of Chester worry first about cleaning up the neighborhood beginning at the laundromat all along Depot Street and restoring Chester’s charm and beauty! Have they not noticed the for sale signs? Chester has lost its appeal! First Dollar General then Walmart then Dunkin Donuts! What a disaster!

  10. Lil says:

    My first thought was, yes, Chester needs more shops or businesses. However, a dollar store competes against the already established local businesses. We need stores that will attract people and their business to our Victorian/Stone Village and create more jobs for the residents who support business owners. I don’t believe that a Dollar General will attract business for Chester, with what it has to offer.

  11. Jacki says:

    I too am against a dollar store in Chester. Chester is all about being “the quintessential Vermont town” with a dollar store? I don’t think so. There are plenty of dollar stores close enough. And I think it will have a negative impact on the small local businesses and the feeling of Chester in general.

  12. I know quite a number of folks are for the development. What are your reasons? This is a perfect place for a polite dialogue on the matter.

  13. Margaret says:

    I concur completely with Mary’s concerns. Why let a big box entity kill our important local small businesses? And right smack in the middle of the town!

  14. Mary says:

    My first thought is: Why do we need another Dollar General when there is one in Springfield only 10-15 minutes away from Chester? I also believe that a Dollar General would hurt our local grocer (Lisai’s) and hardware store (Chester Hardware), who are very important to our community. I am personally opposed to a Dollar General coming to Chester for the reasons listed above.