Developers of a proposed WalMart in St. Albans have cleared the final hurdle before construction can begin. The District 6 Environmental Commission issued an Act 2 permit to JLD Properties on Friday.
Plans to build a WalMart in Saint Albans were first proposed in April, 1993. Since then, developers have faced strong opposition from environmental groups and St. Albans store owners, who say the box store will hurt their business.
Residents of the area have been mostly supportive of the project and reacted with enthusiasm to news that the store will break ground this spring.
"I'm glad! I didn't know it was approved. I'm psyched. I can't wait to tell everybody," said St. Albans resident Khristie Camley.
Many residents say they are glad they will no longer have to drive to Williston to shop at WalMart, especially at a time when gas prices are reaching record highs. They are also hoping the 150,000-square-foot store will provide much needed jobs.
"Where I lived in Massachusetts it was a similar situation and WalMart coming in actually helped boost the local economy in the small town," said Swanton resident Wendy Siano.
Along with granting the Act 250 permit, which allows JLD Properties to begin construction, the District 6 Environmental Commission has required the company to provide payments to the City of St. Albans to mitigate any economic impact the WalMart might have on the area. That money will likely be used to improve transportation in the city and town.
Jeff Davis, owner of JLD Properties, says he is grateful to finally have all the permits his company needs to build the store. In a written statement issued Friday, Davis said his company believes, "that the District Commission was thoughtful and thorough in its decision making process. We accept their findings and will work hard with the City of St. Albans to make sure this project achieves that net positive impact."
Northwest Citizens for Responsible Growth, one of the groups opposed to construction of the WalMart, says it needs to review the permit plan before commenting.
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