Arlington planners OK Dollar General

ARLINGTON - The application of a new Dollar General to be located on the site known as the Arlington Plaza on Route 7A, which will remove the existing building on the property, was approved during the Nov. 9 meeting of the town's planning commission meeting.

The application however, has not been universally welcomed. Some members of the community are leery of the prospect of a larger chain store entering the local retail mix.

According to the unapproved minutes of the meeting, the new building and site design was discussed and approved by the board with five conditions. The first condition is that the sign for Dollar General will be 12 feet high, instead of 15 feet as previously discussed, with a black border. The sign will also be illuminated from the outside as to prevent the neon brightness that signs have which are lit from the inside.

The second condition involves the addition of trees planted at the southwest and northwest corners of the site for additional screening of those passing by on Route 7A.

A third condition states that the lights on the sign and in the parking area will shut off half an hour after the closing of the store. During the time the lights will be in use they must be pointed downward as required. Another mandates that there will be no displays of merchandise or storage of shopping carts outside of the store. A final condiiton holds that there will be 33 paved parking spaces, with 13 parking spaces grassed over in reserve against any future needs. According to Arlington rules the store should have 46 spaces, but the Dollar General policy would indicate that about 30 spaces would be sufficient enough for the project. This led to the idea of having 33 paved spaces initially, with the 13 grassed over and used if necessary.

With these conditions the motion was approved with four votes in favor and none opposed.

During the public comment section of the hearing several members of the audience stated that they are opposed to the idea of a Dollar General moving to Arlington, noting the existence of a petition opposing the store signed by more than 150 people.

According to Cynthia Browning, selectboard member and state representative who was present at the meeting, the Arlington Selectboard was asked by several residents to adopt an interim zoning restriction that would prohibit retail stores larger than 5,000 square feet. The intent was to slow down the process so that all implications of a large store like the Dollar General could be considered.

"It is important that people understand that zoning and planning and permit approvals are a rule governed process, and if a project satisfies the rules it is likely to be approved, even if there might be aspects that some do not like --- perhaps even some on the commission," said Browning. "We need to strike a balance between protection of neighbors and community values and allowing people to develop their property as they chose as much as possible."

The board was reluctant to undertake the restriction because such an interim zoning provision is only possible in the context of an ongoing study or the evaluation of an issue and the Dollar General application had already been filed, and even if the restriction passed it would not apply to it, said Browning.

Although Browning is somewhat neutral to the Dollar General, she does have some concerns.

"I do have a concern that large chain stores offer somewhat unfair competition to our locally owned stores. I value the products and services of Miles Lumber, the Wayside Store, and Paulin's very much. However, I am relieved that Dollar General altered their design and I am pleased that the property will be used productively."


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