McClaughry: the costly Montpelier hotel fiasco

by John McClaughry

Everybody in Montpelier is already well aware of the decades long and now abandoned Capital Plaza hotel and parking garage project, but for the benefit of others let me quote Charles Martin, of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.


Says he, “The project was approved by an Act 250 panel, the Development Review  Board, the Design Review Board, and Montpelier voters. The City has invested more than one million dollars in the pr0oject, that will now have to be paid back in property taxes instead of parking garage revenues…The Bashara family, owners of the Capitol Plaza, will forfeit over a million dollars because of legal fees related to an endless appeals process and the project’s subsequent cancellation.”

“Montpelier loses fifty to 60 construction jobs, thirty to fifty hotel jobs, and the State of Vermont loses an estimated $300,000 in annual rooms and meals tax revenue.”

“Perhaps most upsetting in the wake of an economically devastating pandemic, Montpelier and nearby businesses will not experience the widely anticipated increase in hotel guests that the new venue was expected to generate for local shops and restaurants…”

“A small group was able to derail the project… the Act 250 appeals process has evolved into a costly and reliably dilatory tactic often used by groups unwilling to accept development proposals that have broad community support.”

I voted for Act 250 fifty years ago, and hoped this wouldn’t happen. Silly me.

Categories: Commentary

4 replies »

  1. Years ago in the latter1990’s and early 2000’s, we had a similar problem in Manchester wherein a single individual and a few of his friends consistently blocked construction of buildings which would be in every commercial, economic and environmental best interest of the town all because he personally disliked the proposed developer. The trouble-maker brought numerous law suits to block construction, none of which ever saw daylight in court over a period of many years.

    In 2003 I was appointed by the Governor to serve as a member of the District 8 Act 250 Commission. The three of us then serving on that board all agreed that the town had put up with that nonsense for too long a period of time and made it clear to the problematic individual that the Commission would no longer tolerate his shenanigans and, in fact, we shut him up. The Commission approved the the required permits for construction which then moved forward and the town not only benefited from the results, but it was relieved of having to put up any longer with the nonsense and unending vitriol of a single blockhead.

    The good folks in Montpelier might want to consider exercising the same approach towards their
    problematic neighbors as we on the then District Commission in Bennington County did towards the unique obstructionist in Manchester.

  2. It is not a joke that anyone, with or without a lawyer, in Vermont can kill by delay the economic benefit of any project. Why invest in Vermont with its excessive regulations and anti business enforcement. Just look, and compare, the progress on the east and west sides of the Conn. River.

  3. Act 250 and Act 200 are a perfect fit for any interlopers who want to burn down any effort to add facilities to a city, town or state.

    So much effort has been dedicated by Citizens for Property Rights, and many other well supported groups, trying to encourage great projects and
    preserve any pretense of OUR USA and Vermont Constitutional Property Rights.

    Yet – Still some other “Never, Never, never” comes along with a personal VETO of any effort to improve Vt Assets and our abilities to thrive.

    Will it ever end – or will the our Court System forever be a sand trap??!!

  4. Has anyone ever added up what delaying C&S Wholesale in Brattleboro from expanding has cost this state.? A second warehouse canceled and built in Hatfield Ma. and all or most highly compensated executives transferred to Keene N. H. That all happened many years ago. Seems like nothing has changed.

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