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Town establishes new Rural Commercial zoning district

BRATTLEBORO—The Selectboard approved a Rural Commercial District July 20, a change two years in the making.

The district replaces the Interim Suburban Commercial amendment assigned to Route 9 lands between Edward Heights Road and Sunset Lake Road first adopted in 2007.

According to Planning Commission Chair Gary Goodemote, the zoning changes reflect recommendations in the West Brattleboro Master Plan and public comment gathered through multiple meetings and a public hearing held June 28.

He said the consensus of community members and business owners has been to preserve the “look and feel of rural Vermont” by limiting certain types of businesses such as ones that use drive-through windows.

More than 15 members of the community attended the Selectboard meeting spoke in favor of the new zoning.

Violinmaker Douglas Cox, who works from a studio on Sunset Lake Road, said he uses the “Vermont brand” to draw customers.

“And I’m not alone,” he said.

Cox felt the Rural Commercial District good for business because it would help preserve the landscape his customers think of as “Vermont.”

American Traders CEO Tim Cuthbertson said he generally supported the new zoning with the exception of prohibiting all drive-throughs.

He said he thought the premise behind the ordinance was the community’s desire to control drive-through restaurants. Instead, he said, the zoning could prohibit “anchor businesses” like banks and pharmacies — businesses encouraged in the Master Plan.

“It’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” he said.

Community members broke into applause when the Selectboard members voted unanimously to create the district.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #60 (Wednesday, July 28, 2010).

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