The historic island of Nantucket, Massachusetts has just voted to ban chain stores from the island’s unique downtown. The ban was endorsed this week by 480 residents at the Nantucket town meeting. The new zoning ordinance would bar any new chains with more than 14 outlets that have standardized menus, trademarks, uniforms or other homogeneous decor from opening in the downtown district. The ban would not affect gas stations, grocery stores, banks and other service providers. “I’m extremely gratified,” said independent book seller Wendy Hudson, who proposed the ban. “People saw the balance and need to protect our character rather than this amendment just being another new regulation.” Most remarkable of all, the ban passed by a unanimous voice vote. Because Nantucket is a town, the ordinance now has to be approved by the state’s Attorney General, Tom Reilly. A growing number of towns have banned formula based retail stores.
Many small towns that feel they have a unique character and ambiance to protect, have taken this step already. Bristol, Rhode Island, and Ogunquit, Maine are two New England examples, but the state that popularized formula bans is California, where Arcata, Calistoga, Carmel by the Sea, Coronado, Palm Grove, San Francisco, San Juan Bautista, Sausalito, and Solvang have all adopted variants of bans on formula chain stores and/or restaurants. To review examples of such ordinances, email [email protected] Ironically, the island of Nantucket is the home for many real estate developers, including Louis L. Ceruzzi, Jr, one of the largest sprawl-mart developers in New England. Ceruzzi, who owns an $8 million home on Nantucket, will not have to worry about living near any of the Home Depots or Wal-Marts he pushes on other less affluent communities.