I am saddened and sickened by the planning board’s 3-2 vote recently to approve a Family Dollar store in Richmond.

Richmond has worked hard to get community development grants to improve the image of the town, with new street lights, sidewalks and waterfront amenities. Allowing this 8,000-square-foot store to be built in a residential zone is a huge step backward.

While Family Dollar has agreed to façade changes, the store still looks like a slightly dressed-up big box. Most of the lot will be paved with parking for 28 vehicles.

I am concerned that now this store has been approved, the area could be developed into a strip mall. Land is available and a precedent has been set.

The town’s comprehensive plan committee has been meeting for almost a year to make revisions to the town’s 1990 plan. With a new comprehensive plan in place, ordinances could be drafted to preserve the town’s streetscape and character. I hope there will be enough time to do so before another company like Family Dollar comes calling.

As it stands now, little protection exists to keep them out.

The current ordinance says that in order to allow a business in the residential area, it must be needed and compatible with the neighborhood.

Both items were discussed at the public hearing last week. I don’t think the store is needed since many, if not most, of the items it will sell can be bought by stores currently in town. In addition, this store could hurt locally owned business.

I also do not think this large building and its signs meet the compatibility criteria. It is way out of scale with the town.

I regret the planning board’s decision, and think it has done a great disservice to the town.

Janet ClementRichmond

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