Environmental groups and developer Jesse Sammis have told the District 3 Environmental Commission they intend to use mediation to try to resolve their differences over a large multi-use project proposed for 172 acres at the Randolph exit on I-89.
In November, after several sessions during which the commission heard sometimes contentious testimony, parties asked for time to try negotiate an agreement.
Conservation Law Foundation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Preservation Trust of Vermont have now asked the commission to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and bar the use of confidential information discussed during mediation in any future proceedings by the commission.
A local group which is not a party to the commission's proceedings but had joined the organizations in opposing the project, says it has declined an invitation to participate in the mediated talks.
Brooke Dingledine, an attorney for Exit 4 Open Space, says the organization operates by consensus and it would not be appropriate to limit members’ access to information about the negotiations in the interest of confidentiality.
Dingledine also expressed concern that the MOU asks the commission to exercise powers she says it doesn't have. The MOU asks the commission to consider sanctioning anyone who violates its terms.
Based on a letter accompanying the memorandum, it appears likely the negotiations will stretch beyond the current February 18 deadline set by the commission.
“While our informal and non-adversarial negotiations are proceeding well, they may not be completed by February 18,” wrote Conservation Law Foundation attorney Sandra Levine. “Please note that we may seek to amend the schedule to allow additional time to advance and hopefully complete the negotiations.”
The commission is considering the impact of the proposed development on prime agricultural land and weighing whether it conforms with local and regional plans.