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Vermont Towns Battle to Maintain a Sense of Place

Chain store opponents in Vermont battle to preserve the uniqueness of their small towns by pushing against a planned Dollar General Store. While a review board narrowly approved a plan, it also attached a lengthy list of restrictions.
May 14, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Vermont's decades-long fight to protect its "signature greenness" from the threat of big-box and chain store developments has shifted to a much smaller box - the more than two dozen Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores that have cropped up around the state.

According to Abby Goodnough, "Their [chain dollar stores] spread through Vermont, with its famously strict land-use laws, has caught chain-store opponents off guard.

"Shawn Cunningham, a resident here in Chester who is fighting Dollar General's plan to open down the street from the town common, said that since dollar stores tend to be much smaller than big-box stores, they are often not barred by local zoning rules meant to keep sprawl in check."

"Supporters of Dollar General's plan to open in Chester - a town in rural southern Vermont, near the New Hampshire border - say that the store would expand the tax base and keep residents from having to drive to larger towns for whatever Chester's lone grocery store does not provide."

"But Mr. Cunningham and other opponents say that the Dollar General, which has opened 15 stores in Vermont in recent years, including one in Springfield, less than eight miles away, will be the beginning of the end for what might best be described as Chester's Vermontiness. They theorize that second-home owners will abandon the town rather than abide a discount chain store, tourists in search of a bucolic escape will avoid it and Lisai's Market, the beloved local grocery store, will be forced out of business."



Thanks to Sanford Lyles

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, May 13, 2012 in The New York Times
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