New beagle club in Shaftsbury gets the go-ahead
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 12,2013
SHAFTSBURY — The Southern Vermont Beagle Club has received its zoning permit and the club’s founders are hoping it will be in place on East Road this year.
Steven Peckham, president of the Southern Vermont Beagle Club, said the club members plan to put up a six-foot fence, two running areas and stock the club with hare and cottontail to train the beagles.
“These (club members) are very dedicated guys. They love their dogs. There’s just a real need for a place to train. … I’d like to see this go on a lot longer than all the rest of us so the sport can continue to survive in the area,” he said.
A beagle club, which primarily promotes the raising and running of purebred beagles and trains them for rabbit hunting, has been in the area for more than 25 years.
The Pittstown Beagle Club of New York set up a club at Hale Mountain Rod and Gun Club in 1977. However, by 1999, there was growing dissension between the users of the club, described in a 2006 Bennington superior court decision as “shooters” and “beaglers.” Hale Mountain’s board of directors voted to terminate the relationship with the beagle club in 2003.
Peckham said that many involved in the Pittstown club wanted to see the sport continued. Various options were considered but ultimately, Peckham said, a new club was officially established in 2011.
“The way Hale Mountain shook out, we weren’t owners of that (club.) This is something that we will be the owners and nobody will take this away from us again,” he said.
The Southern Vermont Beagle Club was looking for a home and Peckham said he knew the East Road site because he was once the forester on the land. After approaching the owner and pursuing an agreement about three years ago, the club members began applying for the necessary permits.
Toward the end of the process, neighbors Thomas and Jayne Outwater appealed the decision to grant the club a zoning permit.
On January 17, Environmental Court Judge Thomas G. Walsh issued a decision which rejected the appeal and sent the case back to the town of Shaftsbury to issue a zoning permit.
K. James Malady, who represented the club, called the proposed club a “great endeavor” and called the decision from the environmental court the “decision they were looking for.”
The town’s zoning administrator, Tyler Yandow, said the permit has since been issued.
With the permit issued, Peckham said he was hoping to get some fencing up this winter or spring if it’s possible.
James Harwood, a club member and the principal of Shaftsbury Elementary School, said building the club’s features like the fencing and runs will be done entirely by volunteers. He said he didn’t expect they would need to do any fundraising, at least for their current plans.
According to Harwood, the permits will keep the club, which is expected to operate on about 80 acres of land, from operating within 50 feet of wetlands on the property. The fencing will also keep the beagles away from the road for the safety of drivers and the dogs.
The club is not a kennel and no beagles are expected to be living on the site.
Several calls to Peter Holden, the attorney who represented the Outwaters in their permit appeal, were not returned.