The creeping crud in the Townshend zoning-study vote is not the concerned citizens

TOWNSHEND — Nonsensical letters such as this one do not really merit a response. Yet, as one of the so-called “creeping crud hippie socialists” that Tom Chase describes, I cannot resist.

Mr. Chase claims to know the “real side” of the group of concerned citizens who have come together to try to stop the proposed building of a Dollar General in Townshend. He could not be further from the truth.

The fact is, our group is overwhelmingly made up of young women who have decided to stay in, return to, or have chosen Vermont as the place to make their lives.

These young women are entrepreneurs and small-business owners: farmers, beekeepers, and bakers. They are the future of Vermont and have a vested interest in the Vermont brand.

It may interest Mr. Chase and others to know that we used the 2017 Town of Townshend Town Plan to support our efforts. Happily, we found that section IV of the plan (“Town Plan Elements”) and our goals were not incompatible.

The purpose of the Town Plan, as stated in its introduction, is to “set forth goals and policies that establish a standard for review in Act 250 proceedings and other state regulatory processes.”

Unfortunately, Dollar General's development plan is to find properties that will not trigger the Act 250 process. As imperfect as Act 250 may be, among the goals of the law is scenic protection and to help Vermont retain its rural character.

Our group simply asked the Selectboard to hold a Special Town Meeting to see if voters would support a feasibility study that would explore the possibility of enacting some kind of zoning to keep chain stores such as Dollar General off our scenic landscape by skirting Act 250. The voters said no.

There is zoning - and there is zoning. We believe that it is not one-size-fits-all. We understand that no one wants to be told what they can do with their property, and the resentment of unsolicited advice from “flatlanders” is understandably fierce.

Yet, when a stranger representing a company in Tennessee comes knocking at the door to take advantage of small towns all over the state, we let him in? I don't get it.

There is “creeping crud” to be found in this predicament, but it is not the group of concerned citizens I have aligned myself with.

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