Too much traffic?

To the Editor:

Too much traffic? Really? Innkeepers appealing the new Hampton suddenly concerned about too much traffic? I would think that's precisely what they and all the other businesses owners here in Manchester would want! But, if you watched the recent Planning Commission meeting on GNAT you would know this is all about competition and limiting consumer choice and not traffic.

And, it certainly isn't about saving the trees as the inn keepers appeal would have you believe.

For the record, I'm on the DRB and voted in favor of the new Hampton Inn /Retail development. But today, I write as a resident interested in the welfare of Manchester. I'm also friends with some of the owners of the local inns involved in the appeal and I'm sure they're un-friending me right about now. It interests me that for some reason the same scrutiny and anti-competition tactics being used against food and lodging developments don't apply to the other business sectors. It's OK to have Michael Kors but for some reason a Hampton is taboo? Dunkin Donuts is here but whoa, not Starbucks! Manchester isn't some quintessential little Vermont alcove with a lone country store on Main Street. If you want that, it's just around the bend.

No, in reality, Manchester is a mix of local and national businesses allotted over 700,000 square feet of retail space and living in relative harmony while enjoying an economy that is the envy of most of the state. Based on tax revenue in relation to our size, we're doing pretty well. See the stats on the town's website.

How would the inn keepers that are appealing the Hampton development feel if they were being blocked from building or expanding their inns? Is it true that two of the inns are for sale at present and could that have something to do with the appeals? Should we limit the number of businesses in town? I suppose soliciting the planning board to cap the number of inns, b&b's and hotels might have been a better effort on the inn keepers part. At least that way, prospective investors would know to take their money and developments elsewhere from the get go. Oh, it might interest some of you to know that the former Village Country Inn was part of the Clarion hotel chain. The horrors! And, contrary to what has been written in the paper about the 20/20 meetings (which I attended vs. some of the authors) there was specific conversation about the need for downtown lodging and residences in relation to ease of living, boosting nightlife and retail traffic. Also, it's worth noting that the architecture of the particular property is not a typical Hampton rectangular 4 story building but, a very nice federalist style building in keeping with Vermont vernacular design.

I watched all winter and much of this spring and summer as local trades have been working steadily on projects throughout town thanks to developments in retail, food and lodging. I bet they're pretty happy about the work and looking forward to more.

People said the roundabout was a waste of time and money for Manchester and wow, were they wrong! Now, someone comes along and wants to invest 20 MILLION in our economy that will provide jobs in the near and long term, generate tax revenue and build up downtown businesses in every sector only to be threatened by anti competition appeals based on false premises. Too much traffic indeed.

Greg Cutler



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