Preserve Exit 4 – June 15th deadline – Act Now – Randolph

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Wow… what a chance to keep just one of the most beautiful Interstate landscapes from being turned into just another eyesore of typical interchange development. Community members now have the chance to purchase the remaining 22 acres of land at Exit 4 in Randolph (the golf driving range to the on-ramp going south) with the help of Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV). It’s time for EVERYONE to chip in as the price tag of $1 million needs to be shared by all. The ask is to donate whatever you can as soon as possible to beat the June 15 deadline. Act now by going to the PTV website HERE and click on “Exit 4 Open Space.”

Check out the story in the media (click on the links):

NPR   Seven Days   Valley News   VT Digger   WPTZ   Times Argus   VT Biz   Fox 44   AP

 

{Times Argus Article copied here:

RANDOLPH — Conservation advocates have announced a controversial piece of land off Exit 4 on Interstate 89 in Randolph will likely stay undeveloped.

Jesse “Sam” Sammis had been planning to develop the land he owned into the Green Mountain Center, a mixed-use project totaling 1.15 million square feet located on 171 acres at the northwest and southwest quadrants of Exit 4. When completed, the Green Mountain Center would have consisted of approximately 274 residential units, 280,000 square feet of office space, 236,000 square feet of light manufacturing space, a 5,000-square-foot visitor center, a 40,000-square-foot Vermont products showcase center, a 10,000-square-foot fitness and recreation center, 25,000 square feet of accessory retail and a 180-room hotel and conference center.

Sammis withdrew his application for partial Act 250 approval for the project in 2015 after conservation groups joined the process opposing the development, saying it would have a negative impact on natural resources. Instead, Sammis has agreed to sell 149 acres of the land to the Castanea Foundation, of Montpelier, for $1.2 million. The conservation organization will act as an intermediary and hold onto the land until it can be sold to Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, a farm that supplies goat’s milk to Vermont Creamery. The creamery was recently acquired by Land O’Lakes, a Minnesota-based, farmer-owned cooperative.

Sammis has also agreed to sell the remaining 22 acres to the Preservation Trust of Vermont for $1 million which will keep the land undeveloped. The trust has until June 15 to raise that money. If not, Sammis will keep ownership of the parcel and has said he will look to sell it to a developer. Those looking to donate to the trust can do so at www.ptvermont.org.

Sandra Levine, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation which took part in the Act 250 proceedings, said the new agreement was a “tremendous victory for everyone who cares deeply about farming in Vermont and our valuable natural beauty that we have here.”

Levine said the site will no longer have the potential to turn into Taft Corners, a shopping development built in Williston.

“And that’s great news. We’re so pleased about that. … Certainly when you pull off the highway you should be greeted by open fields here and active farms and not by big box stores and industrial development. Thanks to all the hard work involved, we’ve achieved that,” she said.

David Hurwitz is a member of Exit 4 Open Space, a citizen group that formed to oppose the Green Mountain Center development. Hurwitz said the land off Exit 4 is important because it’s “a beautiful gateway into Randolph. It’s the first thing you see when you get off the highway.”

Sammis, while content with the new agreement, was still defensive about his proposed project that he has now abandoned. He said he had been working with town officials on the project for years. He said the town’s zoning allowed for the development.

“We worked with Planning (Commission). We worked with the Development Review Board. We worked with the Select Board. We had open hearings where people were invited to come and chat with us about our master plan to get their input,” he said.

Sammis said town officials were in favor of the development. He said the process then moved to the Act 250 review.

“And we started to get some resistance from the conservation groups. I would have much preferred to have the conservation groups not showing up at the last minute but to show up early and been part of the process. I would have welcomed them,” Sammis said.

Miles Hooper runs Ayers Brook Goat Dairy. He said the plan for his parcel is to turn it into grass and alfalfa fields for livestock feed. Hooper said eventually he’d like to start up a feed cooperative on the land where smaller area farms could become members to help offset their feed costs as small farms typically operate on small profit margins.

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