Vermont Commons neighbor warns town that education center could harm wildlife, property values

Prep school is misleading town, long-time resident claims

Letter to the Editor:

My name is Sara Shays and I am writing to you in regard to the Vermont Commons School article. I live one lot from the proposed site, and I am very concerned about what this will do to my East Charlotte neighborhood. This is a quiet, peaceful area with farm animals, wildlife and natural wetlands, and families with children (and grandchildren). We all live here for these things.

At first the idea of school-age children coming and learning about the wildlife was great. But the plans are so far from that!

VCS wants nothing more than a sports and events center with no proper bathroom or running water. They want to disrupt one of largest wildlife corridors in East Charlotte by putting yurts for camping there. This will also involve fires in the forest. What is this teaching students about safety and protection of our wildlife?

Sarah Shays' backyard looking onto VT Common's Site. Photo by Mara Brooks
Sarah Shays’ backyard looking onto Vermont Commons School site. Photo by Mara Brooks.

All residents in this area who have recently subdivided have had to comply with having open space to protect the valley, wildlife and wetlands. At the very least, VCS should not be permitted to have any camping on the property. The State of Vermont has 55 beautiful state parks for camping with proper facilities.

As far as the sport and event center, I want the community to understand that this would not be like an occasional wedding. If the math is done correctly, the school has approximately 116 students, plus staff. Add parents, siblings and extended family members. These large numbers would be at events. For sports games, you have the teams and coaches, friends and families for each team. This could be hundreds of people. The current plan has 25 parking spots and overflow parking in a wet area directly behind another neighbor’s home! There have already been issues with parents dropping off and picking up students on Spear Street. It was very dangerous. This event center will disrupt neighbors on a regular basis. There would be many times a week that traffic would increase on Spear Street, which is already too narrow for the traffic it has now. Who will pay for road infrastructure? Not VCS, they are a non-taxable entity. So, we as residents who pay high taxes to live in this beautiful area would be responsible for that cost.

I urge the community and elected officials to take a good hard look at this before just signing on the line.

I would like to see no camping or fires in the wildlife corridor, proper water and facilities, their own entrance to the site, all buildings in keeping with the location of other buildings on this section of the road, managed times of use with a cap on the number of people at one time, and protection for neighbors so that people visiting the VCS site do not wander onto others’ property.

If the use of this site is not carefully outlined, it could open up a huge disturbance to this peaceful neighborhood. Will our property values go down? Will our taxes go up? I think they will.

I truly hope my letter will give the community a better picture of this situation because it is a much more intrusive use of this land in a residential area than Mr. Mahaffey is making it seem.

Sara Shays