The massive 172-acre development planned for Exit 4 in Randolph would destroy the ambiance of this now fairly rural exit and make our beautiful state contain exits more like so many of those in most other states.
This development would also take away valuable agricultural and open land. As climate change worsens, droughts become more prevalent in other parts of the country, demand for food increases with the U.S. population growing by two million people a year; it is going to become increasingly important that we preserve our remaining agricultural land so that we can grow more of our own food.
There is another very important factor that sadly cannot be evaluated. ACT 250 did not consider climate change when the law was written because it wasn’t a matter of concern back in the 1970’s. This huge proposed development, with its stores, 274 residential units, hotel and conference center, and parking lots would have a huge carbon footprint. When Vermont has a goal of reducing its carbon emissions dramatically in coming decades this development, like all large scale development, would make achieving that goal all the much more difficult, if not impossible.
Besides the carbon footprint there is also the broader ecological footprint. All of the surface of this proposed development would be made impermeable; not only would there be no ability left to grow anything or any habitat for wildlife, but also there would be water runoff, some of which may be gathered in drainage ponds but some of which will also end up, along with motor oil, antifreeze and other harmful chemicals, in our streams, rivers and lakes. Resources would also have to be drawn from other parts of the world to build and maintain the complex, resulting in an ecological impact on distant lands as well. We are now creating the highly immoral Sixth Great Extinction, with species declining at the rate of approximately 30,000 per year, and it is almost entirely owing to development, high levels of consumption, and human population growth. Can we really destroy ecosystems and not expect to have an impact on the human species?
I am pleased to report that the Board of Vermonters for Sustainable Population has voted to oppose this development in its entirety after adopting a very clear position paper on land development.
Developers should not be able to make a fortune at the expense of destroying Vermont’s environment. Vermont is not as yet living sustainably; and we should acknowledge that growth forever is unsustainable, deteriorates the environment upon which we depend, and diminishes our quality of life.
Fortunately, in addition to some state environmental organizations opposing this development, there is also a strong local movement whose work can be found at www.exit4openspace.org. Like other local communities fighting highly destructive development, these volunteers face a daunting task.
Regulators, planning commissions, environmental agencies and organizations, and the public at large, for the future of Vermont, please do all you can to stop this development in its entirety.