Judge hears from Dollar General proponents

Posted at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013


The first day of testimony in the appeal of the Act 250 approval of a Dollar General for Chester wrapped up shortly before 5 p.m. after an early morning site visit and testimony from witnesses on behalf of the Zaremba Group, the developer for the 10,000-store retail giant.

The case, being heard at the Courthouse in Newfane before Environmental Court Judge Thomas Walsh, did not get underway until 10 a.m., following a site visit that included 15 Chester residents, the judge, opposing attorneys and a walk around the area. Walsh also agreed to a suggestion by Zaremba attorney Alan Biederman that he drive the length of Main Street from the American Legion Post to past Buttonwood Farm to get a sense of the area.

An appeal was brought by Smart Growth Chester, a loosely formed grassroots organization that has been fighting the project since it first came to public attention in summer 2011.

Dollar General is hoping to build a 9,100-square-foot store across from the Country Girl Diner on Main Street.

Among those experts heard from today, Tuesday, Sept. 10, were Christopher Ponessi of Speath Engineering, who spoke of the site plan and flood mitigation;  Rebecca Pfieffer with the Rivers Program of the Agency of Natural Resources who also addressed the flood hazard; Michael Busher Buscher, a landscape architect who owns TJ Boyle and Associates who addressed whether the proposed building fits in with Chester and was similar to other buildings in the town; David Saladino, a traffic engineer with Resource Systems Group who spoke on data he compiled and whether anticipated traffic from the proposal would impact the area.

Jim Dumont, attorney for Smart Growth Chester, early on went on the attack, questioning the methodology that most of these experts used in coming to their conclusions that either flooding would not be a problem, the proposed building was so similar to certain nearby structures in Chester that it would fit in and that added traffic would have a minimal impact, even on Friday nights and Sundays during ski season. We’ll go into more detail tomorrow.

Walsh adjourned the court at 5 p.m. and said it will resume at 8:30 a.m. in the Newfane Courthouse, 7 Court St. Testimony will be presented on behalf of Smart Growth Chester.

— Cynthia Prairie

 Dollar General case at Newfane Courthouse Tuesday – posted Monday Sept. 9

The appeal by Chester residents of the District 2 Commission decision to give Zaremba Group an Act 250 land use permit to build a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store is scheduled to go before the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court from Tuesday, Sept. 10 through Thursday, Sept. 12th.

The appeals case will begin with a site visit in Chester at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the lot next to Main Street Pizza across from the Country Girl Diner. Up to five Chester residents and three experts are expected to testify on behalf of the appellants, Smart Growth Chester, and three experts are expected to testify on behalf of Zaremba group.

We will be updating this story Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons after court. If the case runs into Thursday, we’ll update you then as well. 

Judge Thomas Walsh will begin hearing the case after the site visit, around 9 a.m., at the Newfane Courthouse, at 7 Court St. off Route 30 South in Newfane. The Goodlettsville, Tenn.,-based Dollar General chain has 10,000 stores in 40 states, 17 currently in Vermont with more set to come in.

A successful appeal  of the Act 250 permit would likely end Zaremba’s hopes of building the discount store, although the Chester DRB is currently acting upon Judge Walsh’s order that it come back with more details about how it reached its decision on the conditional use permit.

— 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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