Deal between Sheffield, developer likely to pave way for Dollar General


SHEFFIELD -- The town and a building developer have reached a settlement that will end a costly year-long legal battle -- and likely will allow a Dollar General to be built.

Select Board Chairwoman Julie Hannum on Monday announced the agreement with Primax Properties, which had challenged the town's rejection of its Dollar General proposal.

"We authorized our town counsel to sign a settlement agreement that has been given to Primax's counsel," Hannum said after the meeting. She declined to elaborate until the agreement was finalized.

Primax, based in Charlotte, N.C., in March 2013 was issued a permit to build a Dollar General store at 660-680 N. Main St. But the Zoning Board of Appeals, acting on a complaint filed by the Planning Board, later rescinded that permit, citing bylaw violations related to parking, landscaping and other issues.

Primax filed an appeal in state Land Court in June 2013 challenging the ZBA's ruling, stating a retail store was allowed by right and the plans comply with the zoning bylaws.

Selectmen declined to provide details about the agreement.

The proposal to build a Dollar General has been a polarizing issue in town, drawing large crowds to town meetings and feuding between residents. Residents came out in record numbers for a November special town meeting to oppose a citizen-petition request to allocate $30,000 to the legal fund should the Select Board choose to use the funding for the case.

The town had spent more than $11,000 on the case between July 2013 through Dec. 2013, although updated figures were not available.

While the appeal named both the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals -- as well as their individual members -- some members of the boards opposed the agreement.

ZBA Chairman Bart Elsbach said his board was "split" on a settlement, and he said the agreement allows for a Dollar General to be built. Concerns about parking and public safety were not addressed, Elsbach said, and the town has only received a concession on "window dressing" issues related to landscaping.

"We capitulated the case completely," Elsbach said. "None of those things are being addressed."

The Select Board choose not to pursue enforcement of zoning bylaw violations in the legal appeal, Elsbach said.

"The basis of the ZBA decision is not on the table because the Select Board did not want to let the case go forward," Elsbach said.

Planning Board Chairman Peter Chernoff stated his board "definitely did not approve the settlement."

To reach John Sakata:

or (413) 496-6240.

On Twitter: @jsakata


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