I built a privacy fence to prevent my neighbors from disturbing my animals. Due to a little-known law, I was fined over $15,000

A VERMONT woman was fined over $15,000 for building a giant screen to protect her livestock.

Ruth Dwyer, a resident of Thetford, Vermont, built a 60 foot by 24 foot wall-like “fence” for her 150 animals on her farmland nearly 10 years ago.

Ruth Dwyer lives in Thetford, Vermont


Ruth Dwyer lives in Thetford, VermontPhoto credit: WPTZ
Dwyer built this 60-by-24-foot wall-like


Dwyer built this 60-by-24-foot wall-like “fence” nearly 10 years agoPhoto credit: WPTZ

But about a year later, in 2015, the former Vermont gubernatorial candidate, who has lived on her 500-acre farm for more than four decades, was fined for building the privacy wall.

Dwyer insisted that she had “been on her property with cows, horses and sheep for a long time,” she said NBC News Subsidiary WPTZ noting that they built a wall to block off the new house overlooking their farmland.

She told that news agency: “Everything that goes on there happens in a way that distracts the livestock, since all the activity happens there, and it’s very close by.”

“Before, there was never any activity there. This is all normal activity for a house.”

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“But that’s just not normal for my cattle.”

She built the wall in November 2014, which she described as a “temporary privacy screen,” after planting cedar trees for privacy, as the trees would take time to grow.

However, her neighbor on the other side of the wall, Patrick Perry, described the privacy wall as “unwelcome”.

Despite what her neighbor said and despite the fines that have been imposed on her, which totaled more than $15,000, Dwyer insisted that she just wanted to “live my life and be left alone.”

Johnston and BorrensteinLLC, Attorneys at Law states on its website: “Unfortunately, the giant wall violated Thetford zoning ordinances, which require a permit for fences longer than 10 feet.”

“Dwyer applied for a permit retrospectively, but the city denied her application on the grounds that it “has an unduly negative impact on the character of the area.”

“Since Dwyer refused to remove the wall, the city has imposed a fine of $200 per day since March 12, 2015.”

The legal team found that Dwyer complained that neighbors were mowing their lawns, children were playing basketball, and their TV lights were disturbing the farm animals.

However acc VTDiggerIn September 2015, Dwyer and city officials agreed to remove the wall that blocked her view of a neighboring home.

According to a Sept. 14, 2015 settlement agreement, Dwyer agreed to the removal of the fence because it violated zoning regulations on her Sawnee Bean Road property, VT Digger says.

The settlement, which was filed with the Vermont Environmental Court, was signed by Dwyer and the city government.

It’s unclear when and if Dwyer removed the wall, but if she didn’t do so by November 1, 2015, the $200-per-day penalty would remain in effect.

Dwyer’s neighbor Perry said at the time: “This situation is slowly beginning to resolve.”

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“I hope this thing can be overcome and we can get on with our lives as usual.”

According to VTDigger, zoning manager Mary Ellen Parkman, who noted the wall was more than 10 feet long and required a permit, said in an email that $200 a day would allegedly be forgiven “if the wall falls.”

This is the neighbor's house that Dwyer claimed overlooked her property


This is the neighbor’s house that Dwyer claimed overlooked her propertyPhoto credit: WPTZ
Dwyer built the wall as privacy for her 150 animals on her farmland


Dwyer built the wall as privacy for her 150 animals on her farmlandPhoto credit: WPTZ
Dwyer is said to have lived on the property for more than four decades


Dwyer is said to have lived on the property for more than four decadesPhoto credit: WPTZ


PaulLeBlanc is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. PaulLeBlanc joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: paulleblanc@dailynationtoday.com.

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