To the editor: Keep Chester’s new zoning regulation

On Nov. 18 there will be a vote to remove Automobile Fuel/Sales/Service from the Residential-Commercial District (R-C).   The R-C zoning district layout is similar to that of the town of Woodstock.

The village center is separated from the automotive uses that are located on the east side of the village. (The Chester Zoning district map is available here.)

Automobile uses are not in the new village designation around The Green nor on Depot Street.  If the automobile uses were removed from the Chester Zoning By-Laws, it is possible to have no gas stations in Chester.

Any existing non-conforming use in the district is allowed until it closes.  Once it closes, the property falls under the existing zoning by laws.

Chester could be down to one gas station. The last time this happened, gas prices were about 10 percent higher. Automobile uses have been allowed in this district since the original zoning by-laws were instituted in Chester in the ’70s.   When zoning was instituted in Chester, there were seven gas stations and four were located in the village district.  There are now only two in town.  The new zoning regulations are not spot-zoning — which would pertain to a single lot — but they apply to the whole district.

In the ’60s and the ’70s,  a Route 103 bypass of Chester by the Vermont Department of Transportation was proposed.   The town’s people were soundly against the bypass because it was hoped people would stop in Chester on their way through on 103.  Chester does not have any real place for an industrial park. The development of jobs for the town is for small home business that the new zoning regulations enhance.

The rather small area set aside for automobile uses is not going to detract from the town.  The lack of a modern automobile fueling center with multiple fuels and an adequate parking area will detract from people stopping in the town.  I have worked on these regulations as the chairman of the Development Review Board, a post I no longer hold.  Working in the machine tool industry and the talc mines and remembering when it was $25 a week to stay in the Victorian Inn, Chester is constantly changing, not very fast and it should be allowed to continue.

The taxpayer dollars spent on the voting of this ballot would have been better spent on pedestrian access to Green Mountain Union High School that we have been waiting for since 1972.   Vote “no” to have gas stations in Chester.

Peter Hudkins

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  1. Brian T. Heybyrne says:

    Based on his comments, Mr. Veliz clearly does not understand how the Free Market works.

  2. Claudio Veliz says:

    Ms. O’Neil, I have no problem with your business development ambitions, none at all. I’d help propel such solution as best I could as a member of the audience.

    Wouldn’t it be good to benefit not only business in the industrial zone and preserve the center of town?

    The solution is straightforward: All interested parties should encourage the Planning Commission to revisit the zoning maps and not only help the O’Neils industrial property to prosper but to further the long-term interests of this unique and charming community.

  3. Amy O'Neil says:

    What’s missing from this particular dialogue is that Chester does have an industrial park. Gold River Industrial Park is 16.6 acres, currently in three lots, permitted with covenants located in the Commercial-Industrial district off Pleasant Street adjacent to Green Mountain Railroad. Each lot also is also partially located in the Residential-Commercial District. The new Unified Development Bylaws mandate that if a parcel is located in two or more districts, the more restrictive regulations shall apply. Effectively that means if residents vote YES then Chester’s industrial park would be completely restricted from automotive development. Granted, the industrial park is underutilized at this time (these are not great economic times by any stretch of the imagination) but it seems irresponsible to restrict future use on a whim or misunderstanding. Please, vote NO to Article 1 on Nov. 18, 2014.

  4. Claudio Veliz says:

    That’s an interesting point by Mr. Hudkins. Now, if a sparkling, new Jiffy Mart across the street puts the Sunoco out of business, how many gas stations will Chester have? And, what would happen to the Jiffy Mart gas prices?
    Regarding change and development in Chester, I agree with Mr. Hudkins, completely, that we want more and better business development. I think few wish otherwise. But I think we all want that growth and development to result in an improvement for jobs, lower crime, appearance of the town – which attracts companies to settle here, tax revenues, local businesses and quite simply, the very quality of life for everyone in town, not just the few.