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Comment Archives: stories: News + Opinion: News

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

Mr. Gillies, I agree that Vermont needs to do more to be more accommodating to growth that provides sustainable jobs; growth just for the sake of growth is not sustainable or attractive to the population we need to keep here.

If building 270 homes in a small community like Randolph is done over say 10 years or so, that may be worthwhile. The same may be true of the commercial space.

I grew up in Randolph, and what to do with Exit 4 has long been a subject of passionate debate. I think there is a way to develop the land and preserve the views, there is certainly a HUGE need for a hotel and conference center. Besides that, it IS an interstate exit, why should it remain empty? If that is the case, then the state should start buying up private land that people like Sammis are paying property taxes on every year.

However, what I would like to see, at least as part of a large development like this one, is make a large percentage of them small, starter homes that people can really afford. DON'T come up with plans to subsidize large houses that people with less money really cannot afford.

We need small homes that builders don't like to develop anymore b/c they say there is no money in building them. That is not true, there is just less money, but there is a greater need and that is a need that must be filled in order to attract and maintain people and jobs.

2 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by BD802 on 07/17/2015 at 12:29 PM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

wow, people in VT are crying for decent jobs and housing, along comes someone who is willing to put up his money to provide both and the community bites his hand. The same people crying about the "loss" of farmland are the one's that cheer on these solar farms that also destroy farmland and are a blight on the VT landscape. Put solar panels on the roofs of these buildings and you have the best of both. The thought that act 250 is week is a joke, I've been in construction for over 20 years in VT and the permitting process just keeps getting harder and more expensive. I'm all for responsible building but it seems the vocal minority in VT is for no building. How are we going to get our young people to stay here if we remain trapped in the 1980's. VT needs to become more business and job friendly, we need more tax payers not fewer. Open your eyes people.

7 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Darin Gillies on 07/17/2015 at 8:17 AM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

The reality is Republicans and Democrats alike in Vermont have been serving the real estate developers for far too long. Constantly undermining Act 250 and weakening it, whether it is through "reforms" under Douglas that purposefully weakened citizen participation and took away citizen standing to challenge projects or through Shumlin and Shap Smith's total exemptions for renewable energy, resulting in the destruction of our open spaces and mountain tops everywhere.

There needs to be a statewide movement to put citizens back in control and fight the developers who are well-organized and destroying Vermont. GMP, The Vermont Homebuilders Association, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, etc. have the constant ear of everyone in Montpelier and the citizens are ignored over and over again. Unfortunately many groups that used to protect the environment such as VPIRG, VNRC, CLF, etc. have not only given the farm (literally and figuratively) for "renewables" but have also mostly abandoned Chittenden County. Glad to see Brian Shupe getting involved here now & wish him success with this but also wonder where was he as hundreds of prime ag. acres devoured for sprawl in South Burlington the last 15 plus years? The same is looming in Hinesburg. The precedent was set in Chittenden County and now is moving to the rest of the state.

The Exit 4 Opposition Group should expect a ferocious, coordinated & well-funded counter-attack, especially if they try to elect sympathetic political representation. It happened here in South Burlington as former City Council Chair Rosanne Greco experienced multiple death threats, the most heinous physical vandalism, and record-breaking campaign spending against her and allies to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars (funded by about 20-30 people, many of whom do not even live in our town). Sadly I just don't see much difference between Democrats & Republicans in Vermont in fighting development.

10 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 07/16/2015 at 11:29 PM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

why did the farmer sell it to samis ?why didn't local farmers buy the land first ? why did brooks pharmacy vacate downtown ? why doesn't someone start a fund to buy property from him? maybe gather farmers who want to lease land as a co operative long term and use lease money to buy property ? work on solution not problem
Offer in town commercial properties to potential businesses that would offer employment to locals . possibly state would bring some of their offices to town from waterbury split . think outside the box and pave those messed up roads ! Shumlin won't unless there is a ski area at other end of the road .

7 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Matthew Lerch on 07/16/2015 at 3:31 PM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

A 180-bed hotel and conference center is proposed here, which is more than TWICE as large as the Comfort Inn in Berlin (89 rooms) and would blight the area, sculpting it to look just like every other interstate exit in the country. Outsized, even more so than Rinker's replacement.

265 housing units? Randolph has a long list of homes for sale...yes, let's all hug Jesse for helping us out with that. The Vermont we have known and loved is rapidly slipping through our fingers... and this project will speed that process.

Randolph has long had (but is rapidly losing) a reputation as a farming community but this project would make three projects in a year's time that propose building (or have built) on prime ag soil. Farmers and farmland will be nothing but more important in years to's time we treasured it for all of its environmental services.

Remember Tropical Storm Irene? Should the Green Mountain Project be built-out and a similar superstorm arrive - the stupendous amounts of impermeable surface sitting atop Slack Hill would aim unusual storm runoff right down Slack Hill towards Randolph. That's an image I'm sure we can all conjure.

19 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Kathy on 07/16/2015 at 2:05 PM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

""...I think the critics out there think with their blinders on.""
I could not help but to be infuriated by that quote. I realize that there are 2 sides to any debate, but it seems so clear to me that it is the supporters of this project who are wearing blinders and not the opposers. Permanent destruction of gorgeous, iconic land for a project is just too big for an area this sparsely populated, one that will more than likely hurt our downtown community seems terribly narrow-sighted to me.
The only thing I have heard supporters say is that they like growth, commerce and jobs. On BOTH sides of the issue, we all want that, but it has to be the kind that best suits the community. This project simply is not and I can't wrap my head around any argument suggesting that it could be.

"Referring to his opponents, Sammis said, "They ought to have their arm around me saying, 'Holy smokes, what a good job you've done!'""
How arrogant. And no.

20 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Kris on 07/16/2015 at 11:43 AM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

Speaking of transportation, Randolph hasn't even had a Greyhound bus stop in years, though we do have the terrific Stagecoach system that can get us a few places, and an Amtrak stop in town. Jon Kaplan is right, if we want to do community planning right, we'd be looking at some sustainability plan for the village as well as a development for the developers.

13 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by jessamyn on 07/16/2015 at 9:14 AM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

I agree with comments above. Also, no one has mentioned the transportation implications of this development. If all of the housing is built, virtually all of those folks will drive to do errands, get kids to school events, etc. I'd like to see more focus on the downtown and making use of existing developed land. Living in the village at least makes walking and bicycling possible for some of the many trips needed for daily living.

15 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Jon Kaplan on 07/16/2015 at 8:22 AM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

Pay close attention to what happens to this project. If this goes through it will set policy that will affect the character of Vermont for years to come.

21 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Jack Rowell on 07/16/2015 at 6:41 AM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

Please go to to sign the petition opposing this unneeded development that will ruin the amazing vistas along 89, destroy prime ag soil of the highest grade, hurt downtown businesses, and cause severe damage to both Randolph's and Vermont's brand. The only people who want this are a handful of business owners who are in Sammis's pocket. There are many business owners who oppose this project, and tourists have been saying loud and clear, they do not want to visit a place that looks like the suburban settings they come from. And Jessamyn is right to point out the 274 unneeded housing units when there are over 80 houses on the market.

This project is ill-conceived in so many ways. It's ugly, uninspired and completely lacking in vision. Exit development has been shown repeatedly to cause great harm to small downtowns. There are examples of that all over the country. There are several industrial sites in the downtown that could be redeveloped for manufacturing, several vacant office buildings, and the two largest vacant retail locations in the downtown are both owned by Sammis. One of them has been sitting vacant for the past 13 years, with the exception of 18 months a few years ago when a Verizon store was in about 1/3 of it.

But Randolph is not a dead town. There has been a recent renaissance in the downtown with the opening of the Black Krim restaurant and bar, One Main Tap and Grill, and Art of Vermont fine craft and art gallery. Both restaurants offer locally grown food, and local craft beers, and both of them are thriving.

22 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Ernie Hotchkiss on 07/16/2015 at 1:25 AM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

I support Jessamyn's comments! We don't need a development of this size for all the above stated reasons. Also the potential loss of the beautiful vistas and farmland is very upsetting. "It's a huge, out-of-scale project for the location" says it all and more. Randolph is a wonderful village-lets keep it that way.

14 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Wendy Wells on 07/15/2015 at 10:57 PM

Re: “Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal

I appreciate this article but I think the picture painted of Randolph is a bit dire. There are very few empty storefronts in downtown Randolph, in fact I'm trying to think of a single one right now except the building Sammis owns. For a town of this size there are a number of local employment opportunities including the newly expanding hospital, the soon-to-be-expanding VT Tech. It's a perfect place for families where one parent works in the Montpelier area and another works at Dartmouth or one works locally. Great school system, great cultural options.

I don't think people are arguing so much about the fitness center or even the hotel but the sheer amount of housing that comes with this plan, housing that is not needed. There are roughly eighty vacant properties in the Randolph area right now and home sellers are having a hard time selling them in this market. That can only change for the worse with 274 additional homes. The multi-family units currently in Randolph are the ones that are the hardest to sell. People have approached Sammis to try to compromise on a more right-sized development and he's been uninterested.

His all-or-nothing approach puts people off. His current business ventures are a combination of successful and less successful but people from town are rightly concerned that he's not going to be able to pull this off. Sure he's a friendly guy and I don't think people have a lot of personal animosity, they just say "This doesn't make sense, business or otherwise" and if the only options are all or nothing, many would prefer nothing.

27 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by jessamyn on 07/15/2015 at 9:58 PM

Re: “Nowhere to Go: A Vermont Prisoner's Suicide Attempt Highlights DOC Housing Shortage

I completely agree with you!

Posted by Nina Bartlett on 06/28/2015 at 11:05 AM

Re: “What's in a Name? The Origins of the "Winooski" River

Mystery solved! Thanks for this article, full of facts and chuckles.

Posted by Mike E Mike Klein on 06/17/2015 at 10:53 PM

Re: “What Stops a Suicidal Vermonter From Buying a Gun? Not Much

Hi Mark cool I found this article. Suicide or genocide I'm not sure which one is worse. I would like to consider purchasing a handgun to feel safe and to be able to be more confident with myself that might be a bunch of bullcrap but one time I was assaulted and now I'm on Facebook so for my own security I would like to learn to carry one for my own safety. I lost your phone number too.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by mattsgone on 06/16/2015 at 8:19 PM
Posted by Mario Bergnini on 05/08/2015 at 4:31 AM

Re: “Brave New Bureaucracy: REAL Licenses Slow Down Vermont Drivers

I spent over 2 hours there, and almost missed my son's school bus. I also asked about the non-REAL ID, and was told that it would only grant me permission to drive and would not serve as an ID at all, anywhere, ever. So of course I got the REAL one. Wish I had known it wasn't so cut and dried. This new system sucks, and requiring my passport to get a license will not stop terrorists from making fake IDs. This is BS.……

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Adam Hall on 05/01/2015 at 4:39 PM

Re: “Brave New Bureaucracy: REAL Licenses Slow Down Vermont Drivers

Fuck, I didn't even realize I ended up with a REAL ID the last time I had to go in to renew...totally would have taken the privilege card if I had known about it.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dylan Boardman on 05/01/2015 at 4:24 PM

Re: “Brave New Bureaucracy: REAL Licenses Slow Down Vermont Drivers

Will the DLC allow establishments that sell alcohol to accept a "driver's privilege card" as proof of age?

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Michael Ponte on 05/01/2015 at 12:08 PM

Re: “Brave New Bureaucracy: REAL Licenses Slow Down Vermont Drivers

The more we mindlessly accept inane government regulations the more mindless inane government regulations we will be forced to obey. Look at the income tax law (mind boggling)...I have decided that it is better to live a simple life and not be productive and not travel. Time is more important than money, excessive travel is the bane of the biosphere. Let the rats run the pointless race. I am will stay home and take care of myself. Am I protesting because I chose a driver privilege card? No I'm just rational.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mike Connor on 05/01/2015 at 11:40 AM

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