Bill to Limit Retail Size to be Withdrawn

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(Host) Now that Bennington voters have rejected a cap on large retail stores, legislation that would impose a similar cap statewide is likely to die. The Senate sponsor of a bill to limit “big box” stores to 50,000 square feet says he’ll withdraw the measure.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Senator Vince Illuzzi, a Republican from Essex-Orleans, has emerged as a critic of large stores such as Wal-Mart that can overwhelm smaller downtown retailers. Illuzzi, who chairs the Senate Economic Development Committee, sponsored a bill to limit the size of retailers statewide to 50,000 square feet. But Bennington’s defeat of the retail cap prompted Illuzzi to reconsider the legislation.

(Illuzzi) “I think that the bill that we introduced should be withdrawn and that we should go back to the drawing board.”

(Dillon) Illuzzi says he now thinks that towns around Vermont should decide for themselves whether to welcome the big box retailers. Bennington already has a Wal-Mart, but a developer wants to build one that’s 112,000 square feet

(Illuzzi) “I’ve come to the conclusion that one size doesn’t fit all and that every community should have a debate and make that decision for itself. And maybe the numbers for Bennington weren’t 75,000. Maybe they should have been 100,000. On the other hand, we have communities in other parts of the state – St. Johnsbury and White River Junction – where a different number might make sense.”

(Dillon) Illuzzi says it’s important for towns to have a planning process in place so that communities realize the full impact – positive and negative – of ‘big box’ development.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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