Position of BEDC on petitions

The following is the text of the letter submitted by Lee Eastman, chairman of Bridgton’s Economic Development Committee, to the Bridgton Board of Selectmen explaining their position against the two referendum questions voters will be asked to decide on March 1.

To: Bridgton Selectboard

From: Economic Development Committee

Re: Formula Restaurant/Big Box Petition

Recently the Economic Development Committee asked you to take a position against the two petitions that have been proposed. We did this with much thought and discussion on this subject. We recognize that our town is in the middle of a resurgence as a regional business center. Further growth can be expected when the high-speed data network is completed.

Having the town vote on two petitions that solely target proved business all over the nation makes poor economic sense. We have been trying to attract all types of businesses to our town. Businesses coming to our region want to know they can be offered great services and also want great convenience and services for their employees. Discriminating against a particular type of business is not the free enterprise that America created. Competition breeds excellence and may induce local businesses to reach for a higher level. Why is it okay for us to allow another private pizza place to come in and compete but we don’t want a formula pizza place to come in and do the same thing? Hannaford came to town. The proposed petitions would have precluded Hannaford from locating in Bridgton. Food City recently installed new meat coolers to upgrade their meat department, emphasizing the idea that competition improves existing services to the town. Hancock Lumber came to town. The proposed petitions would have precluded Hancock Lumber from locating in Bridgton. Brill Lumber is still in business and recently installed a new road sign and improved their services to the town. If Amato’s wanted to come to town they could not under this new ordinance. A Maine company started in 1902 in Portland, Maine.

No new car dealer would be allowed. Big Boxes and Formula Restaurants can morph into a smaller business with a different name, and slide right by the new proposals. Right now Home Depot has a brand store called Village Hardware. The newest marketing trends developed by major retailers are smaller stores to create new growth in smaller towns. It also appears to me that the new go-kart place that had been approved earlier this year would also be in jeopardy because they would be over the square foot allotment.

Why not take the approach of forming Districts or Zones so the character of Bridgton on Main Street is retained and we also can have vehicular commerce outside that zone. This would allow growth and keep the Bridgton Brand intact. A couple of examples would be Burlington, Vt. and Brunswick, Me. Both have great downtown walking areas but both also have Formula Restaurants and Big Boxes. This would be a much better fit for our town and allow our tax base to grow and prosper.

Please feel free to contact me with any other questions you have.

Sincerely,

Lee Eastman

Committee Chair

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