Welcome to THE COMMONS – News and Views for Windham County, Vermont


For 40 years my family has resided in Westminster West. One hundred and sixty years ago the Ranney family had started farming in Westminster West. I understand that it is unique and quite rare in Vermont for a farm to be in the same family for 200 years.

While living near the farm, the proximity has greatly contributed to making it a privileged place. When Arthur Ranney ran the farm, it was a special pleasure to interact with him. We bought him raw milk and took particular pleasure when in the spring he walked up the road with a bucket of grain followed by a group of heifers which he led to the summer pastures on Old Athens Road.

The farm has a long frontage on both sides of Westminster West Road. The open fields are spectacular.

So the question I need to ask (a shared thought, I believe) is: How did this distinctly special property end up in the hands of a millionaire developer? How come it was not placed under the protection and control of the Vermont Land Trust? How come the Ranney family weren’t fortunate enough to receive payment for development rights?

The recent Reformer article on former Governor Peter Shumlin’s development plans for the property [“Neighbors object loudly to Shumlin subdivision,” April 7] took note of Shumlin’s questionable development history. It was mentioned that he took advantage of Jeremy Dodge in East Montpelier.

Do I see a pattern here?

Michael fairchild

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