Ferrisburgh offers deal to McGregor

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard last week agreed to make a formal offer to former Sand Road dog rescuer Sheila McGregor that could bring to a close what had been a costly and at times heated legal dispute.
The board adopted a motion that the town would be willing to forego all pending town fines and penalties against McGregor — if she drops her appeals of Ferrisburgh health and zoning board actions filed against her Heidi’s Haven dog rescue operation.
An Oct. 2 inspection of McGregor’s 2512 Sand Road home by Ferrisburgh health officials confirmed both that the rescue operation had moved — McGregor confirmed last month to the Independent she is now on a 30-acre property in Williamstown — and there were no longer signs of a rat infestation on the property.
Ferrisburgh’s zoning administrator had filed a notice of zoning violation stating that the rescue operation needed a permit, and the town board of health had filed an order with a half-dozen conditions for McGregor to meet to deal with the rats that had infested her and a neighboring property.
Those actions were taken after neighbors, following years of frustration and earlier complaints, had earlier this year ratcheted up their protests to the selectboard about noise and odors coming from the small ranch house and attached one-car garage on McGregor’s 1-acre property. She had housed up to three-dozen dogs and a dozen cats at the home, and this summer added two pigs next to one neighbor’s property.
The motion the selectboard passed on Oct. 16 authorized town attorney Jim Carroll “to reach a global settlement” of both appeals that would include the waiving of “any fees, penalties, or enforcement actions based on past conduct.”
On McGregor’s part the town would require that she “agree to dismiss with prejudice both of her appeals in a manner that leaves the ZBA Decision in full force and effect after dismissal.” In legal speak, “with prejudice” simply means permanently.
McGregor’s attorney, Lesley Deppman of Middlebury, said on Thursday she would have to speak to McGregor before responding to a question from the Independent about McGregor’s willingness to accept those terms.
As of late June Ferrisburgh had already spent almost $10,500 in legal fees on Heidi’s Haven.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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