Former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, appeared at a zoning meeting in April, 2021 about his plans to subdivide his Westminster West property.

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WESTMINSTER WEST — Neighbors to former Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposed three-lot subdivision of the former Ranney dairy farm have filed an appeal with the Vermont Environmental Court.

Attorney Fletcher Proctor of Putney, in writing the appeal, took issue with the decision by the Westminster Development Review Board, which in early January granted Shumlin and his corporation, Ranney Dairy Farm LLC, permission to split off two smaller lots from the 161-acre Ranney dairy farm. The farm is no longer an active dairy operation; Shumlin has owned it since 2004.

Fighting the permit are neighbors Philip Ranney, Trisha Kneeland, Veronica Goulas, Steven Goulas Sr., Daniel Deitz, Martha Moscript and Nancy Pike, as well as Teresa and Michael Sylvester of Charlestown, N.H.

The appeal raises numerous procedural problems and errors with the decision by the Development Review Board, and said that the board “relied on unsworn testimony in making its decision.”

At the heart of the dispute is the access to the two proposed lots via Old Codding Road, which is no longer a town road, and which the permit had called “a private way.”

The board also violated state regulations when it declared Old Codding Road to be “public,” the appeal stated, “in violation of statutory provisions.”

“The DRB improperly obtained evidence outside of the hearings and relied upon it in making its decisions without affording appellants an opportunity to rebut or offer contrary or responsive evidence,” Proctor wrote.

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“Without authority, jurisdiction or legal justification, the DRB repeatedly overrode statutory regulatory requirements in order to achieve what it viewed as ‘equity,’ between the applicant and other property owners,” Proctor added.

“Permit illegally divests owners of private right of way of their property interest without due process, statutory process or just compensation,” he added.

Shumlin, who retired to his home in Westminster West after serving six years as Vermont’s governor from 2011 to 2017, told the development review board last summer that he was creating the two lots out of the wooded portion of the former Ranney dairy farm, which he owns, to help ease the housing crunch.

Access to the two new lots would be via Old Codding Road, a former town road which was discontinued more than 100 years ago and now is considered a private right-of-way. There are approximately 22 homes on the old road, and Shumlin’s subdivision would add two more lots to Old Codding Road.

Proctor, himself a resident of Westminster West, represented Philip Ranney in earlier hearings, and successfully convinced the review board that Shumlin’s proposal was actually a major subdivision, rather than a minor subdivision.

Last week, Shumlin’s attorney, Sam Angell of Brattleboro, released a statement after the Development Review Board approved the permit for the project.

“Peter is grateful to the town of Westminster, their town manager and DRB for all the time, effort and fairness that they had to put into this extremely minor subdivision in a densely settled neighborhood where more housing is appropriate.”

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.