Vermont community resists truck stop proposal; cites ‘rural character’

| 2/11/2009

As more companies announce layoffs or put off major expansion plans for now, one business wants to build a truck stop, but has been met with pushback from one Vermont community that wants to protect their “small-town rural history.”

The Champlain Oil Co. of South Burlington, VT, submitted a formal proposal in November 2008 to build a truck stop – complete with fueling islands, a McDonald’s restaurant and a convenience store – in Ferrisburgh, VT, a town of approximately 2,700 residents.

Since that time, Champlain has been met with fierce opposition by some who say building a truck stop there goes against the town’s “rural character.”

While the proposed builder argues a truck stop is needed in the area and will create desired jobs in the area, groups like Friends of Ferrisburgh for Responsible Growth and the Preservation Trust of Vermont both oppose the plan.

However, Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said like everything else “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

“Trucks are beautiful, and this town is looking to pass on an opportunity to create a vital business service, as well as pass on the incredible benefits to the local economy and tax base,” he told Land Line magazine recently.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, more than 120 residents turned out to a public hearing on the truck stop, which is still in the “application process,” according to Pam Cousino, assistant town clerk for Ferrisburgh. Champlain currently has 33 stores in Vermont and New Hampshire.

“Some feel that by having a McDonald’s here and the truck stop, it would go against our small-town rural history, especially when we already have a gas station and a deli here,” Cousino told Land Line on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

She said the zoning board is still reviewing Champlain’s proposal and is gathering more testimony on the issue.

“We have to look at the long-term effects here,” Cousino said. “Yeah, it may employ some for a while to build it and it might employee some high school students to work in the restaurant, but then what?”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer