150 Acres Off Exit 4 Officially Conserved

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Randolph — The open farmland that was at the center of a long-running controversy between environmentalists and a developer has been permanently conserved.

The 150 acres near Exit 4 of Interstate 89 has been purchased by the Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, which is bound to maintain it as agricultural land by an agreement that involves a conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust, the trust announced on Thursday.

Developer Jesse “Sam” Sammis worked for years to build a hotel and a mixed-use commercial project on the land, and was opposed in his efforts by grassroots group Exit 4 Open Space.

In 2016, the parties struck a deal in which the land would be sold in two parcels to conservationists, who would subsidize sales to third parties by purchasing the long term conservation easements.

The 150 acres was purchased by the Montpelier-based Castanea Foundation for $1.2 million. A separate 22-acre parcel was purchased for $1 million and passed to Randolph conservationists Jessica Taffet and her partner, Camden Walters, who said last year they plan to turn it into a fruit and nut orchard.

The easement could allow for the creation of a public recreational trail, according to the Vermont Land Trust.