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Abutters Appeal New Store in Fairlee

Fairlee — The Development Review Board’s March 11 approval of a Dollar General store, south of Wing’s Supermarket on Route 5, now faces formal opposition from two abutters.

Susanne Pacilio and Meredyth Morley submitted their notice of appeal to the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court on April 5, within the allotted 45-day appeal period.

Pacilio, who recently joined Fairlee’s Planning Commission , said the appeal hinges on the point that “whatever is constructed should be harmonious.”

She said the planned 9,100-square foot retail store is “not harmonious” with the surrounding area, which includes historic homes. Her home was built around 1912, she said.

“I’m hoping that they (Dollar General) won’t go there,” she said.

Fairlee’s zoning regulations, which date back to 1978, place all property along Route 5 in the commercial district.

“If you take a textbook and look up sprawl that’s pretty much the definition,” said Fairlee Zoning Administrator Chris Brimmer.

The town lacks the “arsenal” to limit commercial development along Route 5, said Development Review Board Chairman David Fracht.

The commercial district allows retail, filling stations, banks, post offices, restaurants, laundry mats and professional offices.

“Pretty much anything goes (with) the exception of industrial uses,” said Fracht. “What we have seen with Dollar General is that minimum zoning allows things to happen in town that might not otherwise be allowed to happen if we were more specific in our requirements for development in particular districts.”

Fracht said that during his board’s deliberations over the Dollar General proposal, they took a “good, hard, honest look at Fairlee Village” and found that the area is “very diverse,” he said.

Fairlee’s downtown is home to residences, auto repair shops, banks, restaurants, a hardware store, as well as Wing’s Supermarket and Pacilio and Morley’s historic houses.

The Dollar General “fit into the requirements of the district,” said Fracht. “They’re certainly entitled to try to make a go of it.”

Because the Town Plan that Fairlee voters approved in 2012 continues to support current zoning regulations, the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission has not approved it, said Brimmer.

Fairlee will need a new Town Plan in place before it can make any changes to its zoning bylaws.

To that end, a public forum to discuss Town Plan revisions, including those regarding rezoning, is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, April 24 at the town office.

Zaremba Group, LLC, the developer for the proposed project, did not respond to a reporter’s phone call ahead of this story’s publication.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.