Brattleboro Savings & Loan to open branch in Wilmington

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WILMINGTON — Brattleboro Savings & Loan is opening a branch in this Deerfield Valley town, where it already enjoys a strong customer base.

"West Dover has been lobbying us for a number of years to put a branch there, but we felt it made much more sense to come to Wilmington and, in fact, roughly 16 percent of the households in Wilmington already bank with us at some level," Dan Yates, bank president and CEO, told the Development Review Board. "We are tremendously excited to be coming here."

While the hearing Monday centered around plans for taking over a property where a dental office had been at 108 East Main St., Yates is coming back to the board again later this month with hopes of running a branch temporarily at the former Beyond Imagination building at 6 North Main St.

Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson told the Reformer the East Main Street building is set to be demolished this winter. That element of the project did not need DRB approval.

"They're going to start it as soon as possible so they can prep it for springtime construction," he told the Reformer.

Brattleboro Savings & Loan has two branches in Brattleboro, though it recently closed one in Chesterfield, N.H., and sold one in Springfield. The closure of Merchants Bank at 97 E. Main St. left Wilmington with no community bank, Yates told the Reformer.

"We are thrilled that you are coming," DRB Chairwoman Wendy Manners told Yates. "We love some of the growth that's been going on. Welcome."

Approval for conditional use will be needed for the bank to open in the commercial/residential district. The board has 45 days to issue a decision.

The plan involves building a front porch and a 3 -to 4-foot retaining wall to keep floodwater away from the bank. A drive-thru will be facing the church.

Ingress and egress improvements to the driveway are also anticipated for safety purposes. Traffic will move counterclockwise.

"It will force most people to slow down," Yates told the board.

Customer parking will mostly be offered behind the building. Speed bumps will be used throughout the year, except in winter.

Yates hopes to have landscaping with plants and grass in an island in front of the property.

"Because you've done such a wonderful job in Brattleboro, I was hoping it would translate," DRB member Fred Houston told Yates.

Mark Lavoy, a neighbor with a pool used by children, requested that a fence between the two properties be about 8 feet high.

"Our desire would be to put up a fence that's nicer than a stockade fence, something a little more attractive," Yates said. "Obviously, we would like neighbors to be happy with what we do."

A drainage ditch is another measure expected to help with floodwaters.

"We're very positive about the bank coming," Jerry Osler said after raising concerns about potential flooding in Our Lady of Fatima's Church basement.

Manners said the DRB hopes the design will be aesthetically compatible with the community.

"The idea of this was to have as much glass as possible, particularly on the north side of the building," Yates said, referring to the side facing the street. "Our goal is to make sure nobody regrets our presence and that we present ourselves in such a way that they say, 'They have shown that they are responsible corporate citizens.'"

He did not know what color the building will be painted. He anticipates the bank drawing about 75 cars a day.

His group owns a solar array in Brattleboro, which Yates believes will generate enough electricity to offset costs in the Wilmington branch. His goal is to open the East Main Street branch in June.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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