DRB begins to address Dollar General proposal again

The Chester Development Review Board has gone through all the documents from the previous hearings on the proposed 9,100-square-foot Dollar General Store, according to zoning administrator Michael Normyle. At its Monday, Aug. 12 meeting, the five-member board will announce that it will begin considering what steps to take next. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 556 Elm St.

The board could decide to hear the case over, or to clarify and explain the ruling from the documents, which include transcripts from hours of tapes, plus testimony, exhibits and meeting minutes.

On April 16, 2012, the Chester DRB approved the project, proposed by the Zaremba Group to be built next to the Main Street Pizza House, across from the Country Girl Diner on Route 103.

Court remanded DRB decision

The DRB approval was then appealed by Smart Growth Chester, a grassroots group of residents opposed to the project. In June, Superior Court Judge Thomas Walsh, of the Environmental Division, 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 is an independent, quasi-judicial body that makes decisions on development issues based on zoning criteria.

Judge Walsh said that the DRB could either explain and clarify the decision or begin reconsidering the case. One glitch occurred because the DRB that approved the Dollar General is largely not the current DRB. Only one of its five members was on the panel at the time of the decision.

Normyle said that on Monday, the board will certify that its members have reviewed the exhibits and read the transcripts of the numerous DRB meetings in preparation for a deliberative session that the board will then announce. The small-box retail store was first proposed in the summer of 2011.

The judge wrote that the DRB decision backing the Dollar General “demonstrates clear effort on the part of the DRB and is detailed and well-organized … Appellants assert that the DRB’s factual findings and legal conclusions were insufficient, and we agree.”

Walsh also stated that there was not enough information in the DRB decision for him to decide whether the DRB was correct in its approval on two points: adverse impact on the character of the area and adverse impact on traffic. You can read the document here and a summary is below.

There are currently 17 Dollar General stores in Vermont with 10 more scheduled to come on line this fiscal year, which ends February 2014. Among those 10 is the Chester store.

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.

— Cynthia Prairie

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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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