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Old Diner in Hartford Village Razed After Long Legal Dispute

  • Dishes sit on the charred counter of the Hartford Diner in Hartford Village, Vt., on April 7, 2005, six months after the building burned. on Oct. 7, 2004. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. David M. Barreda

  • Hartford firefighter Alan Beebe sprays water on the smoldering remains of the Hartford Diner along Route 14 on Oct. 7, 2004. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Marc Wood, owner of the Hartford Diner, watches his building burn in Hartford Village, Vt., on Oct. 7, 2004. Wood said the building had no electricity, and he suspected the fire was set. He had battled with the Hartford Selectboard and other town boards about the diner. Many in the town considered it an eyesore and had advocated for its destruction. Wood said at the time that he planned to rebuild the diner. on Oct. 7, 2004. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2017 1:15:46 PM
Modified: 10/26/2017 11:35:37 AM

Hartford Village — The fire-damaged structure that once housed the Hartford Diner on Route 14 has finally been razed, a major event in a 17-year dispute between its owner and the town.

“I’m very happy to see it,” Town Manager Leo Pullar said on Monday afternoon. “I drove by this morning, and we’re very glad to see the progress.”

In April, a Vermont Environmental Court judge ordered the owner, Marc Wood, of Sharon, to remove the diner and a retaining wall made of concrete slabs from the property and to pay the town $20,000 in legal fees.

That’s on top of $60,000 in judgments against Wood in connection with the legal dispute, which has been wide-ranging and brought to the Vermont Supreme Court on three separate occasions since Wood first purchased the property in 1999.

The diner, which closed its doors permanently in 1995, was heavily damaged in a 2005 structure fire.

In addition to complaints that the building, which stands across Route 14 from the Hartford Historical Society’s Garipay House in Hartford Village, was an eyesore, residents also expressed concern about the way the building limited the vision of those navigating the intersection of Route 14 and VA Cutoff Road.

Pullar said Wood seemed to be responding to a Nov. 15 deadline established by the courts in March.

The town’s legal arguments have centered on the retaining wall, which courts have agreed does not conform with a 1999 plan that was approved by the town.

In a 2012 ruling, the Vermont Supreme Court referred to it as a “threat to public safety,” and in 2014, Wood was found to be in contempt of previous court orders to effect the removal.

Wood’s attorney, Hans Huesey, did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment, but in court earlier this year, Wood continued to seek permission to preserve part of the diner building, which had no roof and was missing at least one wall.

Wood has also argued that the town’s orders have been unclear, and in need of clarification for compliance.

In its March ruling, the Vermont Environmental Court Judge Thomas Durkin wrote that Wood “was unable during the hearing to provide a credible summary of the work he wishes to complete to secure the diner.”

Wood has worked with Claremont-based Souhegan Valley Engineering to devise a removal and stabilization plan.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.


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