To the editor: Does Dollar General fit in with Chester?

Have you been wondering and following why Chester has been targeted to allow a small box Dollar General store to be built across from the Country Girl Diner on our Main Street? As many of our good friends know, Bonnie and I have party status in the Act 250 hearing and the appeal process now going before a judge in Superior Court in Newfane beginning on Sept. 10th.

Here is a summary of our main argument against having a Dollar General in Chester.

1. Its cookie cutter design does not comply with our current town plan that states “The Town of Chester illustrates a traditional village character. A mixture of residential and commercial uses exist in harmony. As development pressures increase upon the Town and less densely populated areas, it is vital the unique characteristics of the Town be preserved.” The plan goes on to say that “new development should not detract from the historic character and aesthetic qualities.”

2. The Dollar General proposes a store that has an area of 9,100-square-feet of floor space, which is set back away from the street allowing a lighted parking lot to dominate the landscape. Where do you find this scale and design in Chester? Newsbank is similar in physical size, but all of its parking is hidden in back. The same is true of the large retail Vermont Country Store in Weston. The town visitor is not aware of the scale of their sizes because they have a distinct New England architectural style that is a narrow storefront with connecting buildings extending back and thus away from the streetscape.

3. Dollar General in all its permitting process with the town did not change its basic obtrusive footprint. It is its way of branding on a national scale, which is not only out of character with our town, but our state of Vermont. The Travel and Tourism division, with which Bonnie and I are very familiar, is constant in its main message about the unique character of our state, our towns and our villages. Study after study show that we Vermonters have been good stewards of our heritage. Paul Bruhn of the Preservation Trust of Vermont says, “We have great historic buildings, great village centers and downtowns with a minimum of sprawl, and very strong working landscape farms…One of our great attractions is that we’re not anywhere, USA. We’re our distinct own place.”

We invite you to get involved in this defining moment in our town’s growth. Email:

Paul Bruhn’s full statement can be found below, as well as National Geographic Travel Surveys.

Lew and Bonnie Watters
Chester, VT 

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