Letter: Losing Another Piece of Vermont

To the Editor:

I have a number of concerns related to the B&M proposal to develop the pristine farmland facing Exit 1 off of I-89. I have no problem with development per se, but it seems obvious that there are some trenchant questions that need to be asked in relation to what is being proposed and potentially permitted here. The plans contain a number of 20,000-square-foot structures that will flagrantly violate what most of us treasure about Vermont and will despoil that which we want people to viscerally experience when coming off the interstate from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York — states with interstate exits that are indistinguishable from numerous others across this country because they are blighted by large, soulless buildings.

Perhaps more importantly, why are we building another typically generic commercial center when we don’t need one?

Route 4 already has a plethora of businesses — many of which are struggling and dependent on tourists. Do we really want to compete with our own citizens for a limited number of dollars? Why undermine the commercial health of White River Junction, West Lebanon and Woodstock while ruining yet another exquisite landscape? If B&M were developing a creative, indigenous and rurally appropriate enterprise such as community-supported agriculture or even a farm-based residential community (see www.qroefarm.com) that would make sense and receive strong community support. The last thing we need here — between already well-established population hubs — is yet another variation on a shopping center, which is what this is.

George E. Abetti