Vt. Gov. Shumlin reaches deal in land dispute

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Associated Press

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 8:04 PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Peter Shumlin will return a neighboring property to its previous owner under an agreement reached after he was criticized for buying it at a steep discount.

Shumlin's attorney said Thursday the deal will allow Jeremy Dodge to keep the East Montpelier property and pay back the governor over five years.

Shumlin bought Dodge's longtime family home and 16 acres for $58,000 last fall when Dodge was facing a tax sale. The property had been valued at more than $233,000, a figure lowered to $140,000 when Shumlin asked for it to be reassessed.

Under the terms of the initial agreement, Dodge would be allowed to live on the property temporarily and Shumlin would pay Dodge's back taxes and child support payments. But after Dodge complained publicly about the deal, Shumlin, a Democrat, was criticized by some who felt he had treated the neighbor, who has a ninth-grade education, unfairly.

Shumlin later agreed to renegotiate the deal.

Dodge said he was "glad it turned out the way it did."

"And I appreciate the governor doing what he did to help me as far as getting it back in my name," he said.

Attorney Jerome Diamond said the amount Dodge will pay back is still being negotiated but he expects it will be about $30,000, an amount that Diamond said reflects what the governor spent on the transaction that directly benefited Dodge, including taxes, repairs and child support payments.

Shumlin will take a first mortgage back on the property and Dodge will repay the governor with interest, Diamond said. The interest rate will be the lowest possible interest allowed by the Internal Revenue Service, Diamond said.

"I know the governor is pleased that it's being resolved and it's being resolved in a way that Jeremy Dodge and his family are happy," he said.

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