06/16/2011

By Lisa Loomis

Members of a citizens’ group are appealing permits for a Family Dollar Store proposed for the intersection of Routes 2 and 100 in Moretown.

The Moretown Development Review Board issued a conditional use permit for the proposed store on May 17. Members of the citizens’ group expressed concerns about the impacts of the store during the DRB hearings and will take those concerns to the Vermont Environmental Court.

 

Their appeal will be held while the project goes through state Act 250 review. If the project receives an Act 250 land use permit, the appeal will then be heard.

The 8,200-square-foot store was approved in a 3-2 decision by the Moretown DRB last month.
Board members John Riley (chair of the board), Tom Badowski and Linda Vantine voted for the project. Erick Titrud and Jim O’Neill voted against it.

Objections and concerns over the proposal were voiced by the towns of Duxbury and Waterbury as well as the  citizens’ group. The decision was issued May 17. The written decision notes that retail stores are permitted in the commercial district and goes on to explain the board’s reasoning.

Top Notch Properties, developer of the Family Dollar Store, owns two adjacent lots near the intersection of the two roads. One lot is one and three-tenths acres and contains Juniper’s Fare and the Arkley Homestead building which is rented residentially. The second lot is seven and four-tenths acres and contains three commercial buildings, each about 10,000 square feet. As proposed, the new store will be constructed on part of both lots (after the residence is torn down).

The DRB, in its decision, notes that the proposed use meets lot coverage criteria and then worked its way through the conditional use review criteria, including character of the area, before concluding that the project met the criteria.

“The location of the proposed building is in an existing commercial park and adjacent to other commercial uses such as a used car dealership, a hardware store and home center and paving business. The board finds the proposed retail store will not adversely affect the existing character of this area,” the board wrote.

The board noted that there were many concerns expressed about the impact of the store on pre-existing traffic problems at the intersection of Routes 2 and 100. That intersection currently has a VTrans rating of F, the lowest possible rating.

“The board agrees with the concerns expressed by the citizens’ group and the neighboring towns that this is a problem intersection for safety. On the other hand, the proposed development is within an existing commercial park and it is unreasonable to prohibit a modest development of this type when much of the problem at the intersection is associated with growth and development of the State Office Complex and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waterbury Village and the middle and high schools serving Waterbury residents lying southerly on Route 100. Also there was testimony that the Duxbury Zoning Board has provided approvals for development at the nearby State Farm property that involves 300-plus new parking spaces. The present development, which proposed 25 parking spaces, is modest in comparison,” the board wrote.

In issuing its decision, the DRB declined a recommendation from the town of Waterbury and others that the two existing curb cuts leading into the commercial property be replaced by a single access directly across from the intersection. The board wrote that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether that would improve traffic and safety.

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