Northfield Mulls Zoning Change As Dollar Generals Expand In Vermont

04/06/12 12:04PM

There are several proposals pending for the construction of Dollar Stores in towns around the state, including one in Northfield.

Earlier this year, Dollar General received approval from Northfield's Planning Commission to build an 11,000 square-foot store on a two-acre parcel of land.

Michelle Braun, Northfield's Zoning Administrator, said Dollar General's proposal is consistent with the town's municipal plan and they've proposed a building design that matches the town's historic village center. "Overall I think the proposal was consistent with what Northfield is looking for in terms of development," Braun said.

But town officials are now considering a zoning change that they say would protect the town from certain retailers that they believe could hurt downtown.

Northfield's Select Board voted last month to support the town's position as a so-called one-acre town.

Under such a plan, all commercial projects proposed for parcels greater than one acre in Northfield, including the Dollar General, would have to go through the state's Act 250 review.

But Braun said ensuring that Northfield remains a so-called one-acre town is not merely an effort to block the Dollar General. "It's just an attempt to maintain local control over how proposals are reviewed," Braun said. "What the town wants is to retain our ability to decide whether we're a one-acre town or a ten-acre town, and that development proposals go through the Act 250 review."

At this point, Northfield town officials say they're not prepared to review projects against Act 250's criteria.

Dollar General has asked for an opinion from the environmental commission on their Northfield proposal.

You can read select board minutes from Northfield and 75 other Vermont cities and towns at VPR's Public Post.

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