Middlebury Town Plan set for Nov. 13 hearing

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday made its revisions to the draft town plan and warned it for a Tuesday, Nov. 13, public hearing during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting. That meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Around 10 citizens showed up at this past Tuesday’s meeting to weigh in on the draft plan — and primarily on a section in which the planning commission had recommended inserting language limiting new commercial retail proposals to 50,000 square feet for a single store. This retail store cap is already included in the town ordinance, but the commission and some residents believed the cap reference should also be included in the town plan.
But a majority of the selectboard said they believed the zoning ordinance — which itself will be up for revisions in the coming months — provides adequate protection in referencing the 50,000-square-foot limit. They said townspeople should now debate the subject of limits on new “big” retail, which they said could lead to the restrictions being further tightened or loosened within the context of the zoning ordinance.
The board included the language: “This Town Plan prescribes that all industrial, commercial office, and commercial retail development in the Town of Middlebury must be in conformity with the Town’s Zoning Ordinance with respect to location, character, and size.”
Those arguing in favor of referencing the 50,000-square-foot retail limit in the town plan are concerned that not doing so will make the community more vulnerable to undesirable, out-of-scale business proposals that could be aesthetically displeasing and competitively damaging to small, locally run shops in the downtown.
But other residents have argued that Middlebury needs a larger anchor retail store to keep more shopping dollars local rather than seeing those dollars spent in the commercial hubs of Rutland and Burlington.

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