Local Voices

Let the Community Decide - Hinesburg Record  - January 2006
.......Planning for growth in Hinesburg doesnt have to mean making the same mistakes Williston and South Burlington have made. We have a chance to build on a real community, not simply to build pass-through conveniences for commuters en route to Burlington. We have a chance to preserve a small town with a village we can be proud to call home, not a place where everyone has to drive and kids aren't safe walking to school. We can get our officials acting on our collective, democratically-decided behalf even (and especially) municipal appointees. I've attended many meetings of various boards and nearly every public hearing on the town plan and on the subject of development, and I've heard that townspeople want a walkable village, local business in places currently occupied by dilapidated private structures, and to preserve Hinesburg's sense of community. It only makes sense that townspeople want a hometown, not a sterile bedroom community for Burlington.

The Hinesburg Land Trust has several initiatives underway to help show that growth doesn't have to be rapid, and results don't have to be regrettable including the Russell Family Farm project to protect 63 acres of trails and managed sugarbush right in the heart of the village that will protect against overbuilding the southern part of the village, which, if overdeveloped, could only exacerbate our already worrisome traffic problems.

We can influence our town government to explore creative options like using land purchase funds to buy and sell prime real estate for local, responsible business development. And we can improve the land we already own as citizens. Let's be sure there aren't any behind-closed-doors meetings of town officials and landowners that could impact the resources we all own. If we prioritize our future clearly, to give our politicians and business
leaders a clear direction for where we want Hinesburg to go, we can avoid the kind of sprawl, waste, and traffic that have destroyed states like New Jersey, Florida, and Arizona, not to mention killed the sense of community in towns right up the road from us.

Attend hearings, show up at planning commission meetings, and write letters. Remind our town officials and
appointees understand that their vision may not match up to what citizens want, and need, to build a safe, comfortable, sustainable Hinesburg.
Craig Chevrier

From Gordon Glover
I really appreciate and agree with Michelle McGee’s comments and positive community spirit in her recent Front Porch Forum postings on Hannaford. I had written this response a few weeks ago, and thought I’d sit on it a while to decide if I really wanted to post it, or if it even needed to be said. Perhaps it has already, and the recent posts in the Hinesburg Record also echo many of my concerns. No matter what happens, life will go on in Hinesburg. While most of us don’t own Lantman’s, Lantman’s IS owned by someone in our community. Hannaford is a big corporation anchored in Belgium. Ask yourself which business entity has the interests of our community closer to heart and home, and which one is a multinational corporation
concerned only with exploiting global markets to feed mandated growth and bottom line profit for shareholders? One needs only to look at the skeletons of small towns all over the U.S. to understand that over-scaled corporate big box retail is an invasive species that crowds out the native local business animals. Lantman’s is emblematic of what makes and keeps Hinesburg special. Representatives for Hannaford
at the town meetings I have attended have been combative and dismissive. Their attitude has been, “We are within our rights, and if you don’t like it, then try to stop us”—which reinforces my perception that they are more interested in serving themselves than our community. What would Hinesburg be without local businesses? Replace Lantman’s with Hannaford, Estey’s with a Lowe’s, Brown Dog and Kovals with a Barnes and Noble. Welcome to Anywhere Suburbia U.S.A! Cheaper, more convenient retail! More jobs! Hooray!
But at what cost?
Gordon Glover

From Catherine Goldsmith

Hinesburg Residents Share Their Thoughts on the Canal Meadow

Folks, please do not be surprised by ANY move that Hannaford makes in Hinesburg. They have been at this a long time and have big goals.

Let's look at their plans. Without any consultation with our planning and zoning department, Hannaford Supermarket proposes it's standard 36,000 sq box - delivering a packet of over 50 pages of material to our small staff.  It is exactly the same box as is proposed for an wooded eight acre site in Turner, ME despite the fact that Lot 15 is
only 4.6 acres and without screening on four sides.  The proposed parking arrangement is exactly the same as in Turner, despite the fact that Hinesburg zoning specifically does not allow major parking in front of a store.  Route 4 in Turner has a speed limit of 50mph, lot 15 is in a 35mph zone. 

The company will try to build the cheapest, biggest store they can. Since they have run into some public friction, they will, no doubt, now propose some minor cosmetic alterations, none of which will address the most serious problems with this project. [Scale, community compatibility, giant blank walls visible on three sides in the center
of the village]  They may expect our citizens and our DRB to roll over with gratitude for a few fake gables and faux clapboards but I hope that isn't the case.

If the Hannaford and their consultants truly had studied the word and the spirit of Hinesburg's zoning regulations, including the official map, and wanted to make a respectful proposal to our community, they would have proposed a reasonable store on an available site the first time around instead of playing games and wasting the time of our town employees and our dedicated volunteers.  Or maybe they would have stopped to ask a few questions before "designing this store for our community"?

Once our downtown area has been paved, we will never have a chance to get it back.  Hinesburg IS different than Williston and it can stay different.  Yes, Hinesburg will change over time but we have the power to determine how best to manage that change.  Hinesburg's zoning regulations and official map have all been created by public meetings and forums.  It is not for outside corporations to tell us how our town needs to change.

It is known that extra-large sized retail businesses create special burdens on a town including all day traffic, increased accidents/crime and vast parking areas.  Mixed use, human-scaled development allows citizens to keep an eye on their community, reducing opportunities for crime and the need for larger police forces. (see Jane Jacobs, 1957 and others through the decades) 

Let us try and disagree politely about this proposal.  Let us try and consider the families that are currently being supported by good employment at Lantmans.  Jobs at a chain grocery store are not career jobs unless you are willing to move for the company, at their will and on their schedule.  Is that what you would want for your family?
Catherine Goldsmith p.s. It goes without saying that the Giroux family must be paid for their land and that hard-stretched tax dollars are not the way to do it.

From Mary Crane

My Hometown - by Wendy Patterson

I want to voice my support for Lantmans Best Yet Market in Hinesburg.  It has come to our attention in Hinesburg that Hannaford wants to build a supermarket off Commerce St. here in town. We already have a really great supermarket, Lantmans, and I can’t see how our town has the population to support both.

Lantmans and Brian Busier, the owner, have always been there for our community. His continued commitment to donate time and financial supportfor local events such as school, sports, harvest festivals etc.,-–have made Lantmanss an important cornerstone in what makes Hinesburg the strong ,small town yet vibrant community that it is. You name it, Lantmans name is usually on the list of donors.

In addition to community giving, Lantmans is always willing to hire our local teens. Brian allows flexible schedules so students can find time to work, as well as giving many at risk teens jobs. I’m sure over the years he has turned around many a kids life for the better, through trust and by setting a good example.

One of my favorite things about Lantmans is its human scale. When we go there we know so many people, we chat, we catch up on the goings on in town, on friends and family; yes sometimes it can be tough to get in and out quickly but in the end I don’t think any of us want to give that up.

Also Brian is so accommodating. If there is anything you need and they don’t carry it, he is willing to get it and try it. Over the years I’ve asked for him to carry many products and every time it has showed up in about a week. I can’t imagine a large, non locally owned Hannafords doing that.

One final point I want to raise about Lantmans . there are so many people in our community who love this store for all the above reasons, but I think the main one is how Brian runs his business. He has always set an incredible example for the community by working hard. He’s out there sweeping the parking lot, he’s in the aisles with his customers asking if there is anything we need. He’s a presence in the store and we know who to go to if we want something.

My worry is that our community cannot support two supermarkets and that over time the big money of Hannafords will win out, and that Lantmans smaller more human scale won’t be able to get enough of the market share to hang in there for the long haul. Bigger isn’t always better or of greater “value” for our community, and I’m afraid of what our town will lose if Lantmans were to go out of business. We could lose a huge part of our community and what small town life is all about, and why many of us choose to live here.

So I want to encourage community members to throw their support behind Lantmans in anyway they can and if there is a way of stopping Hannaford’s from coming to Hinesburg let’s all support that too.

Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: