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Landowners Fail to Block Act 250 Permit for Barnyard-Styled Dollar General

In In re Zaremba Group Act 250 Permit, 2015 VT 88 (June 26, 2015) the Vermont Supreme Court upheld an Act 250 permit challenged by an irked group of neighbors.

Issue: Developers intend to build a Dollar General in the town of Chester. The developers designed the Dollar General to resemble a backyard barn, although Justice Skoglund dryly observed that nevertheless, the project’s “warehouse-like features shine through.” When the Environmental Commission granted the developers an Act 250 permit, neighboring landowners appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The neighbors contended that the Commissioner’s findings regarding the aesthetics and flood potential were clearly erroneous.

Holding: Noting its highly deferential standard of review, the Vermont Supreme Court found no reversible error. On factual grounds, the Court ruled that the Commission acted within its discretion in granting the Act 250 permit. The developer took sufficient steps to mitigate any possibility of flooding, and the Chester zoning regulation did not meet the clear community standard required to preserve aesthetics. The Court pointed out that although Chester boasts a historic downtown, the Dollar General was well removed from the downtown and neighbored a liquor store.

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