VNRC, Others, Challenge St. Albans Wal-Mart Permit

first_imgMONTPELIER Today the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC)and other parties filed legal paperwork challenging an Act 250 permit thatapproves the construction of a new Wal-Mart store in the town of St. Albans. VNRC, Others, Challenge St. Albans Wal-Mart Permit In the motion, the partiescontend that the District 6 commission the local panel that hears Act 250cases in the St. Albans area ignored its own findings when it granted thepermit. For instance, the commissionfound that the store would pollute a nearby brook, would increase trafficcongestion, and could cost as many as 200-297 jobs and cause over 40 businessesto close in St. Albans City. The commission also heard that the projectsdeveloper would pave over prime agricultural soils and that it was questionablewhether the developer would properly reduce the impact of losing those soils.Despite the fact that the commission stated it agreed with all this evidence,the commission granted a permit for construction anyway. If the commission lets thepermit stand as issued, the parties could appeal the case to the EnvironmentalCourt. The conclusions reached bythe commission are simply not supported by their own findings, said SteveHolmes, VNRCs deputy director. The decision is riddled with inconsistenciesand seems to ignore the evidence. ### In their motion to alter, theparties ask the commission to deny the permit for failing to meet several Act250 criteria. Joining VNRC in filing theMotion to Alter the Act 250 permit is alocal group known as Northwest Citizens for Responsible Growth (NWCRG) andnearby farmers Marie Frey and Richard Hudak.  All have been granted party status in the Act 250 process.center_img Web: Also under the permit,Wal-Mart would pay St. Albans City $500,000 to compensate for negative impactsto the city. That, according to Holmes, is a pittance compared with what otherlarge developers have paid other communities. Wal-Mart agreed to pay PimaCounty (in Tucson, Arizona) $35 million roughly two percent of retail salesover 25 years to build a 123,000 square foot store. And, 20 years ago theCity of Rutland and the developer of Diamond Run Mall in Rutland Town executedan agreement as part of an Act 250 permit to provide over $3 million in directand indirect impact fees to offset and mitigate adverse effects of the projecton the city. For example, in their April 4decision authorizing the permit, the district commission heavily criticized afiscal and economic impact study of the regional impact of the store  done by Wal-Marts consultant, sayingthe analysis contained flaws and omissions and in part is not credible.  Nevertheless, the commission issued thepermit relying almost entirely on the consultants report, which estimated only40 lost jobs and 12 lost businesses in St. Albans City. The proposed store would bethe largest in Vermont at 146,755 sq ft. It is proposed for Route 7 near exit20 off I-89. A smaller Wal-Mart store of 100,000-square-feet was proposed forthe same site in the 1990s and was denied in part because of impacts onsurrounding communities. The Messenger editorial said &as the city pursues its negotiationswith Wal-Mart, could a deal be struck in which the city and Wal-Mart wouldagree to a set percentage of gross sales being due the city? The store isexpected to generate sales of $60 million a year, if one percent were dedicatedto the city, thats $600,000 a year. About VNRCThe Vermont Natural Resources Council is an independent, nonprofit research,education, and advocacy organization founded in 1963 to protect Vermontsenvironment, economy, and quality of life. Nearly 6,000 households, businesses,and organizations support VNRCs mission. Closer to home, an editorialin the St. Albans Messenger onDecember 1, 2006, suggested that Wal-Mart pay a considerably higher fee to St.Albans City than the amount in the recently granted permit. The Messenger has consistently editorialized in support of Wal-Martbuilding a store in this location.last_img read more