To the Editor:

As a neighbor living directly on Covered Bridge Road, I’d like to comment on “Hilltop house prompts zoning change campaign” (Nov. 18, 2021).

Unfortunately, what started as a good intention piece concerning possible shortfalls in Stowe’s ridgeline zoning bylaws ended up being a mud-slinging article, pure and simple, targeted at an incoming neighbor who is rightfully and legally building a house on property he bought fair and square.

The article was generally decent until the story jumped to the next page. Then the gloves came off. It appears that even though the homeowner, Chris Meaney, fairly bought property that was, for a long time, available to all, followed all current zoning bylaws, and finally went to the development review board when he wanted an adjustment to his driveway’s location, he is still criticized because he didn’t listen to people pushing a not-in-my-backyard mentality.

If you followed all the rules when building your dream retirement house, would you change crucial plans because some neighborhood critics didn’t like your way of doing things? I guess they forgot the 5th Amendment guarantees open access to matters concerning life, liberty and property.

In truth, a local builder who knows the subject property told me that it was mostly pastureland and the trees growing on it were of the scrub variety. Look at a Google maps view for yourself. It seems very few — if any — large well-established trees were taken down in the process. In fact, the few decent trees were left and are still standing. Look at the picture in the newspaper.

It is always shocking when that old piece of property that sat empty forever gets cleared for new construction. It ruffles feathers no matter who is building.

As a result of this article, I communicated with Meaney by email. He told me he has, in part, lived in Vermont — mostly in Stowe — since attending the University of Vermont in 1980. He is saddened to have been judged just when his new house was in the middle of construction. He says he loves this area and believes people will like the finished product and see it as a positive addition to the neighborhood.

I look forward to seeing his new home when it’s complete, just as I have with all the new builds in my neighborhood over the past 20 years. However, whether I like his house or not is irrelevant. My hope is that he loves his new home just as I hope all my neighbors do.

After all, home is where you feel loved, appreciated and safe. No one should be able to ever take this away from you as the 5th Amendment decrees.

So, Mr. Meaney, if you are reading this, welcome to Covered Bridge Road. Please don’t let a few detractors cast a shadow over the fact that you are moving to a wonderful area with people who are here, mostly, because they too want to live and let live. In my experience, this is the true Covered Bridge Road — and Vermont — way.

John Beecy

Stowe

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