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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Read the new zoning regulations before the vote

10/18/2007

By Robert Foster

I have waited over a year to respond to the accusations reported in The Valley Reporter. I did so because I wanted my situation with the town to be resolved one way or the other before responding.

First, it was reported by <MI>The Valley Reporter<D> twice that I stated that my property would never be built on. That statement is not true. 

At my first meeting with the planning commission the chair of the board introduced me and as I stood to introduce myself, Mr. Bennett rudely interrupted me and stated, "Mr. Foster was here 10 years ago and said his property would never be built on!"

Well, the person taking the minutes went back into the town records and reported back to the commission at my second meeting that there was no record of such a stipulation. So the planning commission knew back in 2005 and early 2006 that this was not true. Yet, this statement was repeated in both articles on my subdivision as late as this summer.

Anyway, we have settled with the town, and the some of the conditions that we settled upon were ones that I was going to put into the deed.

However, what bothers me is all the conditions agreed to were not required under the zoning regulations I applied under.

What bothers me, and probably many people who have gone before the board, is that it seems that the board always tries to add conditions to a project that are not required under the zoning regulations. You either accept the conditions or we will reject your project.

I felt that there was more concern as to what the board wanted to see, and little concern about the rights of the property owner.

Recently, I have seen in The Valley Reporter editorial column, how can we save our fields?  The problem I see is that this is the attitude of our town government. It is not "our fields," it is private property that falls within the town.

This attitude that we can legislate, at the expense of the property owner because this is the way we want our town to look, is wrong. We have approximately seven people making decisions on private property that not only affect the property owner in the present but also could affect their children and grandchildren.

So often we hear people supporting the freedom of speech and religion. Certainly, a handful of immigrants came to the country for this reason. But the vast majority came to this country to achieve the American dream.

That dream was and still is to own their own home and property, without government interference. There wasn't a place in the world where either the government or the military did not control or own the land. This was one of the few places in the world where you could come and own your piece of the dream without government control.

It seems to me that we are beginning to slide down that slippery slope.

I applied for my project, under the old zoning ordinance.

My project complied with all the state and local laws, yet it took me two years fighting with the town to do something that was within my right as a property owner to do.

When I read in the paper people who own 160 acres of land have been fighting with the town for 10 years, or others who have spent thousands of dollars to divide 100 acres of land into nine building lots -- there is something wrong. Yes, both of these projects have finally been approved. However, this should not have happened in the first place.

I would love to know how much of the taxpayer's money over the last 10 years has been spent defending the board's positions. It should be a matter of public knowledge. Try and get an answer to this question.

Now the town is asking us to adopt new zoning regulations; back in the '70s when the first zoning was approved the reason was to protect us from unscrupulous developers. What is it this time?

I will be willing to bet that 90 percent of the people in this community do not even know what is contained within the new regulations. From what I read, it is even more restrictive closing all the loopholes that allow property owners rights.

You had better get a copy and read it before this vote to adopt next week.

I don't care whether you have lived here all your life or only three weeks. These bylaws affect us all.

Just remember, any zoning means you are giving up some of your rights to private ownership to the government.

Robert Foster lives in Waitsfield.
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