Dollar General gets Act 250 approval, opponents will appeal
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | February 28,2013
CHESTER — The District 2 Environmental Commission approved a land-use permit for a Dollar General Store in Chester on Wednesday.
According to the ruling, the permit authorized the Zaremba Group of Lakewood, Ohio, to build a 9,100-square-foot retail store on two lots consisting of 10 acres combined. The proposed site will be at 319 South Main St. in Chester.
The developer also obtained a conditional-use permit from the town’s Development Review Board last April and now has the green light to begin construction, pending an appeal from local opponents.
Shawn Cunningham of Smart Growth Chester, a local group fighting the proposed Dollar General Store, said the developer should plan on an appeal of both the state and local permits.
“We’re disappointed and a little bit surprised,” Cunningham said, shortly after the decision was announced via email.
Several residents and local business owners testified against a Dollar General Store proposal, arguing that the store would affect the local environment. But the District 2 Environmental Commission concluded that the Zaremba Group’s plans would meet local and state environmental regulations.
Flooding was a particular concern raised by opponents. During the testimony, Claudio Veliz of Chester showed a video of the Williams River flooding the proposed site during Tropical Storm Irene.
The commission approved the developers’ remediation plan that would include a 50-foot buffer for stormwater management and flood storage purposes.
The commission also ruled that a Dollar General Store would not affect aesthetics or scenic beauty under Criteria 8 of Act 250. Cunningham disagreed with that conclusion.
“There is wording in the town plan that says any new development has to blend harmoniously with the center of the town,” he said. “This store clearly does not blend in harmoniously with the town.”
According to planners, Dollar General is proposing a store with a barn motif that reflects a New England architectural style. The store would include outdoor shielded lighting, a pitch roof with a weather vane and signs, and would meet local zoning regulations.
Opponents claim the store proposal does not comply with the town plan, which asks that all buildings reflect the character of the town village. Veliz argued in past testimony that the Dollar General Store structure is formulaic and would not blend in with traditional New England-style architecture.
Dan MacDonald, the store chain’s senior director of corporate communications, did not return a call for comment.
Smart Growth Chester is gearing up for its next battle: to appeal the Chester DRB and District 2 Environmental Commission rulings.
The group has 30 days to appeal the commission’s decision.
“We’re in this for the long haul and we plan on going to environmental court and start the arguments all over again,” Cunningham said.
Dollar General Store of Goodlettsville, Tenn., is a national retail chain with more than 10,000 stores in 40 states. According to the company website, the stores made more than $14.8 billion in sales last year and is the nation’s largest small-box discount retailer.