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Vt. deal clears way for Wal-Mart, downtown aid

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- A new agreement between environmental groups, the state and a developer of Wal-Mart stores will clear the way for the giant retailer to build a new outpost in the northern Vermont town of Derby, while getting more aid to the state's downtowns.

Gov. Peter Shumlin joined lawmakers, environmental group leaders and others in announcing the deal on Wednesday.

Under it, lawmakers will be asked to approve a 30 percent increase in the state's $1.7 million downtown and village tax credit program to encourage economic development in those areas.

The $500,000 increase would enable the program to fund another five or six projects per year, meaning $7.5 million more in investment in our downtowns and village centers annually, officials said at Wednesday's announcement.

The Vermont Natural Resources Council and Preservation Trust of Vermont have agreed to drop opposition to a Wal-Mart store planned for Derby.

And Wal-Mart developer Jeff Davis says he'll agree to a moratorium on any additional Wal-Mart stores in Vermont until 2020.

"The Wal-Mart moratorium gives downtowns time to plan for any future big-box development coming down the pike," Shumlin said. He said St. Albans, for example, was able to strengthen its downtown in advance of the arrival this fall of a nearby Wal-Mart, in hopes that would mitigate any significant negative impacts from the nearby big-box store.