By Patricia Minichiello
The developer looking to put a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Rutland Town, next to the Holiday Inn off Route 7 South, has withdrawn his Act 250 permit appeal.
Developer Gene Beaudoin, with Saxon Partners, said Friday Sept. 16, it didn’t make sense financially to continue the appeal process, fighting both the Diamond Run Mall and the Agency of Natural Resources.
“We were coming up on the time when we were going to start spending a lot of money adjudicating the appeal,” he said. “We’re at a stage where we thought that we would withdraw and reapply at a later time.”
Beaudoin said they might have to reapply with a new long-term tenant in mind. “The whole thing has taken so long that the tenant [BJ’s Wholesale Club] has gotten some cold feet as well.”
The developer said they are still working with the owner of the property next to the Holiday Inn, and that they anticipate refiling, but he’s not sure when.
“That’s the problem with appeals, they delay things out so long that they actually make the deal fall apart,” Beaudoin said.
Rutland Town Administrator Joe Zingale said during the latest Select Board meeting, the project could be revived in the future, but because of the Diamond Run Mall’s opposition, the project is not going forward at this time.
In December, The Rutland Herald reported that mall sought payment from the developers in order to drop its opposition to the big-box store. Don Chioffi, a Rutland Town selectman at the time, called the move “blackmail.”
However, David Grayck, attorney for the mall, said Monday, Sept. 19, that he did not know of a request from the mall for payment. He said Matt Stearns, attorney for the developers, sent him an email Thursday saying that for issues unrelated to the appeal, the developers weren’t going forward with the project.
“All, due to business issues unrelated to the pending appeals Saxon Partners has decided to withdraw its petitions for partial findings under 9(L) at this time,” the email from Stearns said.
Grayck said the mall’s opposition to the project was unrelated to retail competition.
He said the proposed project doesn’t comply with 9(L) — new anti-sprawl legislation — and the mall has an interest in ensuring that the area is developed properly in compliance with the law.
“What was disturbing was that two experts from the state of Vermont said what’s proposed doesn’t comply, but yet the district commission approved it,” Grayck said.
Patricia Minichiello is a freelance reporter and editor of vtpresspass.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.