In 2013, VNRC – in partnership with Citizens for a Greater Bennington (CFGB) entered into a successful settlement agreement to help buffer the impact of the expansion of a Walmart store that was expected to have a negative impact on downtown Bennington (A regional economic impact analysis demonstrated that as many as 10%-15% of the downtown businesses might have been adversely affected).
After a protracted legal battle, the settlement we reached with CFGB and the developer, BLS Bennington provides economic support and grant money to maintain the viability of downtown Bennington. The settlement also provides funding to support projects to maintain, enhance or restore the Walloomsac River watershed.
This victory could not have happened without an earlier one: In 2011, VNRC appealed a decision of the District Environmental Commission that denied VNRC and CFGB the right to participate as full parties in the Act 250 process. We prevailed when the Vermont Environmental Court overturned the DEC decision, setting important legal precedent on the right of parties to participate in Act 250.
“The efforts of VNRC over the past few years to bring everyone together and design a constructive solution should be celebrated as an example of how future development should move forward in Vermont,” said John Shannahan, a member of the Citizens for a Greater Bennington. “The knowledge and experience they brought to the table regarding local concerns played a pivotal role in ensuring that the development occurs in a manner that benefits both the developer and the entire community,” Shannahan added.