This bill was introduced in 2006 and passed the Senate, but not the House. It would have established a statewide store size cap of 50,000 square feet. (That’s slightly smaller than a football field and less than one-third the size of typical Wal-Mart store.)
Cities and towns would have been allowed to lower or raise the size limit within their jurisdictions provided that they:
- Have a comprehensive plan that articulates a policy that addresses the impacts of big-box retail on the economy, environment, downtowns, land use, and transportation system of the municipality and region;
- Adopt zoning rules that limit big-box retail development to designated areas;
- Establish architectural and site design standards for big-box stores; and
- Enact a policy requiring a regional and community impact analysis of any proposed big-box development larger than 30,000 square feet.
The bill stipulated that this analysis be conducted by an independent consultant chosen by the city and paid for by the developer. It stated that the study should evaluate the costs and benefits to the community and region resulting from the project, including: net gain or loss of jobs; impact on the demand for public services; tax revenue gains and losses; and estimates of how much of the project’s revenue will be retained and redirected into the local economy.
(Vermont already requires a regional environmental and fiscal impact review of large-scale development projects through its Act 250, which was enacted in 1970. These reviews are conducted by District Environmental Boards composed of representatives from the affected region.)
TEXT OF RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF VERMONT’S PROPOSED LEGISLATION
S.0175 : ESTABLISHING AN INTERIM STATEWIDE CAP ON THE SIZE OF NEW BIG BOX RETAIL USES
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to establish a statewide interim cap on the maximum floor capacity of “big box” retail uses, thereby prohibiting the construction or operation of a new or expanded big box retail use that has a gross floor area larger than 50,000 square feet. The bill proposes that this prohibition be effective July 1, 2006, and apply only to new construction or expansion taking place after that date. The bill proposes to allow each municipality to establish a lower cap. It also proposes to allow a municipality to establish a higher cap or to remove the cap entirely, but in either instance, only if the municipality adopts articulated municipal policy or policies that address the impacts of big box retail development and also adopts zoning bylaws that: establish limitations on the area or areas within the municipality where big box retail uses are allowed; establish certain design control standards; and require an applicant to provide the community with funding necessary to complete a community and regional impact study of the projected costs and benefits of the project.
AN ACT RELATING TO ESTABLISHING AN INTERIM STATEWIDE CAP ON THE SIZE OF NEW BIG BOX RETAIL USES
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 24 V.S.A. § 4412 is amended to read:
§ 4412. REQUIRED PROVISIONS AND PROHIBITED EFFECTS
Notwithstanding any existing bylaw, the following land development provisions shall apply in every municipality:
(1) Equal treatment of housing and required provisions for affordable housing.
* * *
(8) Square footage cap on “big box” retail uses.
(i) As used in this subdivision, “big box” retail use means any single business having a gross floor area in one or more buildings at the same location of 30,000 square feet or more, in which:
(I) goods or merchandise is offered for retail sale to the general public or to members for personal, business, or household consumption; and
(II) services incidental to the sale of those goods are provided.
(ii) In computing gross floor area under this section, the following shall apply: if retail facilities are located together with a manufacturing component which covers at least 90 percent of the floor space of the enterprise, the floor space involved in the manufacturing component shall not be included in the computation of floor space, unless more than 30 percent of the goods sold by the enterprise are from retail sales made on the premises.
(B) Statewide interim cap of 50,000 square feet gross floor area. Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision (8), there is established an interim cap on the maximum floor capacity of big box retail uses, prohibiting the construction or operation of a new or expanded big box retail use that has a gross floor area larger than 50,000 square feet. This prohibition applies statewide to all municipalities and supersedes any inconsistent provision in any municipal bylaw or ordinance. Notwithstanding section 4481 of this title, this prohibition is effective July 1, 2006 , and shall apply only to new construction or expansion taking place after that date.
(i) Municipal power to amend cap. Any municipality may enact bylaws that lower the interim cap on maximum floor capacity of big box retail uses established in this subdivision (8) for purposes of application within the municipality. A municipality also may raise the interim cap, for application within the municipality, to a size specified by the municipality or it may remove the interim cap completely with respect to its applicability within that municipality, but in either instance only if the municipality has demonstrated compliance with the objectives of this requirement through the adoption of all of the following:
(I) Articulated municipal policy or policies that address the impacts of big box retail development on the economy, environment, downtowns, land use, and transportation system of the municipality and region and that are adopted as part of a municipal plan that has been adopted under section 4385 of this title and approved under section 4350 of this title.
(II) Zoning bylaws, adopted under section 4414 of this title, that provide for all of the following:
(aa) Limitations on the area or areas within the municipality where big box retail uses are allowed, consistent with the adopted and approved municipal plan, so that big box retail uses are allowable only in areas designated for commercial growth and are excluded from other zoning districts.
(bb) Design control standards that are applicable to all big box retail uses, including standards for architectural design, site layout, and parking lot design, as well as standards to ensure the proposed use is compatible with the scale and character of neighboring areas.
(cc) A requirement that, prior to receiving any local permit or authorization for the project, any applicant for a new or expanded big box retail use shall provide the community with the funding necessary to complete a community and regional impact study, in compliance with subdivision (B)(ii) of this subdivision (8), of the projected costs and benefits to the community and region resulting from the project. This study shall be conducted by an independent consultant chosen by the appropriate municipal panel.
(ii) Community and regional impact study. The appropriate municipal panel shall require an applicant for a big box retail use to provide a community and regional impact study of the projected costs and benefits to the community and region resulting from the project, including:
(I) projected costs arising from the demand for and required improvements to public services and infrastructure;
(II) the value of improvements that are to be provided by the project to public services and to public facilities;
(III) projected tax revenues to be generated by the project;
(IV) projected impact on property values in the community and region and the potential loss or increase in municipal tax revenues resulting from the proposed project;
(V) projected net job loss or creation caused by the project and the resulting potential loss or increase in tax revenues; and
(VI) estimates of how much revenue generated by the project will be retained and redirected into the economy of the community and region.