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VNRC, Bennington Citizens, File Appeal in Wal-Mart Case

Press Release: Montpelier, VT (October 24, 2011) – Citizens for a Greater Bennington and the Vermont Natural Resources Council today appealed a ruling by the local Act 250 District Commission that denied them full party status in a case involving the proposed expansion of a Wal-Mart in Bennington.

The appeal is to the Vermont Environmental Court.

“The citizens, who live and work in this community, have valuable information that should be considered in this case and they deserve all the rights of party status,” said Jamey Fidel, VNRC’s general counsel. “In its decision, the district commission relegated the citizens to second-class ‘friends of the commission’ status, denying them their full legal rights, even though they submitted 50 affidavits articulating particular concerns about water quality, traffic, impacts to downtown businesses, and compliance with the town plan.”

Meg Campbell, representative for the citizens group, elaborated on some of the concern with the project. “Bennington has invested significantly in its downtown and the proposed store could have an impact on the financial health of downtown businesses,” according to Campbell.  A regional economic impact analysis that was prepared for the developer and VNRC demonstrates that as many as 10%-15% of the downtown businesses may be adversely affected by the proposed Wal-Mart expansion.

Fidel and Campbell said they hoped that the developer would not continue to challenge the full participation of the citizens or VNRC.Today’s filing is a notice of appeal. Within 20 days, VNRC and the citizens, known as “Citizens for a Greater Bennington” plan to file a motion in court outlining the reasons the court should allow participation with the full rights of a party.