On December 9, 2020

The penalty for being Black in Killington

Dear Editor,

Thank you for allowing my family’s voice to be heard. We’ve spent years in legal disputes, pursuing the town for our “grandfathered status” and illegal “selective enforcement.” There is a significant amount of information to share and I would be doing the story a disservice by only talking about the wastewater system that has not failed and is fully functional.

Instead, I’m writing this letter to share our two-year experience and provide the facts of this case. The facts are what Killington residents, homeowners, and businesses need to see/hear.

For 13 years I owned and operated a vacation rental home in Killington without incident or complaint until September 2018. (The notion that this has been going on prior to then is false.) The town has never provided such evidence via certified mail; they won’t because it didn’t occur.

During the summer of 2018, my family and I relocated from Colorado to raise our children in Vermont and we lived in our home at 287 Estabrook Road in Killington, for the first time ever during the month of May: myself with my black wife, biracial kids, and black in-laws visiting.

Two weeks after our month stay in Killington my neighbor began lodging complaints about my septic, the noise, and the safety of the home.

Again all of this comes after 13 years of conducting business right next door without a single issue whatsoever. Furthermore, I was a customer of his cleaning business just a few years earlier.

As communication and allegations persisted it became obvious to us that this was a particularly charged situation, more specifically a racially charged situation. Ultimately his allegations about my septic, the noise, and safety proved unsubstantiated via the costly legal process.

My neighbors went as far as to contact VRBO, which ultimately put me out of the short-term rental business. Meanwhile, my neighbors continued to promote competing properties that were also in violation and are still in violation today.

Additionally, I still found myself exclusively pursued by Killington’s town manager and zoning board in what feels like a strategic triangulated attack.

After two years, six-figures+ of financial impact, countless hours, and sleepless nights we have hit another wall. Despite the very best legal advice from Brooke Dingledine, VDM Law Barre, we find ourselves trapped by a loophole of what feels like systemic racism. Ultimately, this allows the town of Killington to selectively single out and target individuals. As a family of color we have been pinned down and immobilized by their targeting for the past two years.

Then this week, I find out that Killington issued a “Health Violation Order” about my septic system. Their evidence? None. But

I have evidence.

I believe the town of Killington is trying to support the false narrative they communicated to the Mountain Times and the community two years ago. They can use the local paper to tell a story that ultimately becomes the story of the town.

What if the story was about deliberate and systemic racism?

After 13 years owning this home as a white man, I had not a single complaint. I show up with my black wife, black father-in-law, and mixed-race kids for 30 days (first time ever), and my neighbor issues a complaint.

That’s the truth.

During that month we lived in Killington in 2018, my kids were visible on Estabrook Road, we are riding bikes around the neighborhood, we are using the Killington town pool later that summer.  We have arrived but we’re not welcome.

This has crippled us financially, emotionally, and spiritually. To say we are devastated is an understatement and we have exhausted all of our other viable options to resolve this with the town in a logical, reasonable way. We decided with very heavy hearts to list our home for sale 100% in response to the feeling of prejudice that surrounded us.

In conclusion, I ask: I’m one of 900+ homes that violate this two people per bedroom ordinance. Why are we the only family to receive this letter?

I’ve met all the guidelines for fire safety, waste water, and drinking water. I chose to pursue the town legally for selective enforcement because racial injustice is intolerable, I continue to fight this fight because I have to and I hope my efforts here lay the groundwork that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.

Vincent Connolly and Moriah Stokes

Morristown, Vermont

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