Deerfield, MA. Town Planning Board Says No To Dollar General Box
After a six month review process, the Planning Board in Deerfield, Massachusetts has denied a site plan permit for a 9,318 sf DG store.
The chain store box was proposed by Lisciotti Development, of Leaominster, Ma., the largest DG developer in New England, with a record of controversy in almost every community it has approached.
This company sets up small LLCs in each community where it applies, so that any financial challenges it faces do not spill outside of the corporation for that one project.
Lisciotti tells towns that the peak hour traffic from the DG is so minor that no further traffic impact study is needed. If the town asks for a traffic study, Lisciotti will try to get its retained traffic consultants to do that study, and tells the town they can hire someone to do a traffic peer review. But peer reviews are more superficial, and would just review what another traffic engineer has done. Since these traffic firms all know each other, the opportunity for conflicts of interest are rife. The town must insist on selecting their own traffic consultant--at Lisciotti's expense--and ask the town's consultant to use actual traffic counts at similar DG projects for comparison.
Other towns that have reviewed Lisciotti's DF plans have pushed for things like: a smaller store footprint, more compatible with the abutting residences (like 5,000 s.f cap); a building style more compatible with a residential format; pitched roof, clapboards, fenestration, etc., so that the resulting store reflects the existing building style of abutting properties; asking for limited hours of operation and truck deliveries; no light spillover; etc.
In Deerfield, the Planning Board voted Dec. 10th to deny the DG site plan. The developer tried to quiet local opposition by offering to give the DG box “a barn look” with cedar shingles.
The citizen’s group, Deerfield for Responsible Development,which led opposition to the proposed project, said the vote was “proof that a formula box store cannot come into our town and dictate or disregard our concerns, but instead must adhere to our by-laws and must respect our town and the best interests of its residents!”
Lisciotti Development now has the right to appeal the decision to Superior Court. The company has been known to appeal adverse decisions, but in Charlestown, R.I. this month, Lisciotti announced that it was dropped its appeal of a Planning Commission agenda
What you can do: The best defense against a "small box"chain store like Dollar General is to review and update your community's zoning code before a proposal is submitted, to look at size caps in most commercial zones, building design criteria that require buildings to be harmonious and compatible with surrounding properties, and keeping commercial sprawl separated from residential properties.
For more on the Deerfield, MA defeat of Dollar General: