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Dollar General Offers More Changes

“Lucky I didn't see a meat counter or a deli,” said Lisai's Grocery store owner Lonnie Lisai, after viewing the Dollar General's interior plan Monday night, Dec. 12. “There's a lot of overlap” between what his store offers and what a new 9,100-square-foot Dollar General would offer, he added. “About 90% (overlap) … aside from the meat.” What he had been viewing, during the Chester Development Review Board's continuing public hearing on Dollar General's conditional use permit, was a plan that contains between 600 and 780 linear feet on racks 6.5 feet high with grocery items similar to what he sells. That does not include the cases of cooler space on the side. By comparison, a football field is 300 feet long.

Lisai added that he was all for business competition but that this seemed unfair. The remaining space is taken up by clothes, housewares, paint, electrical and automotive supplies, toys, pet accessories, electronics, balloons, party goods, gift wraps and stationary.

Claudio Veliz, a local architect and member of Smart Growth Chester, which is opposing this proposal, told the DRB that the Dollar General store site plans are in error, that where the plans point north is neither true north nor magnetic north. He added that the true siting makes a difference since the southeast side of the roof will stay in sun and melt while the northwest half will not, creating “an asymmetrical snow load,” potentially racking the structure.

But much of the evening was spent by DG representatives addressing changes to the exterior of the plan: removing faux shutters and faux side windows and offering a putty colored clapboard siding, requesting the option of changing it to vinyl before construction. They also showed the DRB the front brick facade and black standing seam metal roof they hope to use and said they would propose installing a sprinkler system.

Board member Dan Ferguson continued to express concern over the pitch of the roof, calling it “weak.” “Any reason why it can't be steeper?” he asked.

Dollar General reps also returned with plans to address the flooding issue presented by opponents at the last meeting. Chris Ponessi of Speath Engineering said they would build a “berm of 9 inches to a foot” as well as fill in the back portion of the site – toward Lovers Lane Brook – by a foot to 18 inches “to protect from flood waters.” He added that slab would be 1.5 to 3 feet above grade. Ponessi said they've also decided to bury the propane tanks – either two 500-gallon tanks or one 1,000-gallon tank – for safety and aesthetics.

Board chief Peter Hudkins then asked Matt Casey of the developer, the Zaremba Group, if he returned with several items requested at the last meeting:
Demographics of the area that made DG think Chester was a good fit? Casey replied that this was proprietary information.
A marketing study that would indicate what would sell? Casey again replied that this was proprietary.
A merchandizing plan? Casey replied that this was basically the interior floor plan that he submitted.

Hudkins then asked why a representative of Dollar General did not come to Chester as asked “or are they proprietary, too?” Casey said his company was hired to represent DG and is passing along all questions.

Hudkins also asked about the number of Dollar Generals that have closed. But after Casey said they can't determine the reasons the stores close, Shawn Cunningham* of Smart Growth Chester said that according to the chain's SEC filings, in 2010, 600 new stores opened, 56 closed and 504 were either remodeled or relocated.

During public comment, business owner Michele Bargfrede asked, “How many (Dollar General) stores are in Vermont and what is their success rate?” And Diane Holme read from the Town Plan: “Does it appear from objective evidence, expert opinion, public opinion or common sense that the proposed use in the area proposed will be good for Chester and the majority of its residents?”
She continued, “To build the same store here when Dollar General has a store in Springfield, less than 10 miles away, does not seem like common sense. There is also a similar store, Family Dollar, even closer. There is an above-average chance that the proposed Dollar General store in Chester would not be able to sustain the desired profit margin.”

The meeting was then cut short when DRB member Harry Goodell, who is also the town fire chief, was called away on an emergency. Both Smart Growth Chester and the Dollar General representatives have been asked to return to the next DRB meeting with more information. That meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, at Chester Town Hall on Elm Street.

-- Cynthia Prairie, Editor
*Cynthia Prairie is married to Shawn Cunningham.

Moonlight Holiday Shopping on the Green

The Shops on the Chester Green invite you to come and enjoy a special evening on Friday Dec 16th. Twelve businesses will be open until 8 p.m. offering holiday specials to their customers. Most open between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Amid the welcoming atmosphere and warm holiday lighs, enjoy eggnog and homemade cookies with your family and friends. Each shop is unique and filled with many one-of-a-kind items, many locally made. The shopkeepers in Chester appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you!

The following shops are participating: Ye Olde Shoppe at the Inn Victoria; Moon Dog Cafe; Sage Jewelry; Country Treasures Quilt Shop; Misty Valley Books; DaVallia Art & Accents; Peace of Paradise; Country on the Common; Mountain Leather Designs; Rose Arbour Gift Shop; Hugging Bear Toy Shoppe; and WaterMusicArt Gallery. And of course, Alice's Restaurant and the Fullerton Inn will also be open to diners.

Chester Rotary Donates Personalized Books

Twenty-five students from Chester-Andover Elementary School received personalized books Rotary_Gift_bookson Tuesday, Dec. 6 with the support of John Holmes, a Chester Rotarian, whose interest is to improve literacy. Each of the students’ names are woven into a personalized story that includes family members and pets. “These personalized books develop a sense of appreciation for reading,” said Holmes. “Some hold on to their books long enough to read them to their own children years later. Tremendously exciting adventures start by reading. Our hope is that this program will simply provide an added encouragement for students to pick up a book and read.” -- Chester Rotary Photo

Be sure to check out the new winter photo gallery on the Home Page!

Shumlin and Who?

The photo to the right shows, from left, Vermont Gov. Peter ShumlinGov. Shumlin,
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who was just re-elected to head the Democratic Governors Association. The association recently met in California. By the way, O'Malley has invited Lady Gaga to dine with him and his wife to discuss how to stop bullying. And all Shumlin gets is this photo? Full disclosure: O'Malley was my councilman and mayor when we lived in Baltimore city, I do have a Facebook page and Shumlin is now my governor and I have met him. Also, my apologies to the un-credited photographer. Once I find out who shot this, I will credit.

Cynthia Prairie

Comments

A nice report but it didn't say how many turned out. I missed the meeting due to health issues. Let's continue to stay on top of this as a community. I have posted a series of Chester landscapes on my town website, which clearly show a legacy of the essence of Vermont. You can view and comment on them at www.ourchester.org.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Hi Lew, We hope the health issues have been resolved. The crowd fluctuated from a low of 15 to a high of 35 or so. And folks, be sure to check out Lew's website!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Cynthia, Thank you for continuing to report on the Dollar General zoning matter. Thank you, too, to all the members of the community who have continued to participate in the deliberations before the Development Review Board. I concur with the comments of Ms. Holme's, the Dollar General project is inconsistent with our town plan. I do hope that board rejects this request.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Sunday, 18 December 2011
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