Drop the Lawsuit (Marshfield v. Harris)

Marshfield Vermont Selectboard

Please sign this petition, asking the Town of Marshfield to drop their Marshfield v. Harris case in Vermont Superior Court. Below is a summary of the situation. For additional details and supporting documents please refer to the full letter to the residents of Marshfield and background reference material.

  • The Town of Marshfield is suing me for having a youth camp on my land without a permit. As of September 14, 2023, Marshfield spent $9,577.72 of our taxes on legal fees. I had to hire a lawyer to defend myself and have wasted over $4,000 of my own in legal fees.
  • The Selectboard has committed to meet with me and our lawyers to negotiate a settlement on the case on the record on three occasions, finally requiring that I file a Change of Use Permit before they would meet. I have filed the permit and received the decision on the permit, but the Selectboard has refused to meet, even after stating that the Selectboard was not interested in barring me from all future camps (as is stated in the lawsuit), and that because I was willing to pay fines and get the appropriate permits in the future that we should be able to reach a settlement relatively easily. But they just keep spending money and holding the lawsuit, which I feel contains language which is a serious overreach of authority and inappropriate for the infraction they are trying to address.
  • In July of 2021 I held a youth focused event, Uprise Camp, on my land without a permit. I had applied for the permit too late in 2021 and the permit was denied. At this point we had a full camp of registered campers, a full complement of hired and volunteer staff, and many families had gone to great lengths to plan for their kids to come during the pandemic - quarantining, travel plans, etc. - so we felt compelled to persist in holding the camp. Marshfield had made it clear they would fine us; we figured we’d just have to pay the fines. I had received a permit for the same camp in years before, so I felt that it would be a greater harm to cancel the camp than to hold it without a permit.

The former Zoning Administrator has denied in public meetings that there is a lawsuit, but if you click the link below you can see it for yourself.

On 1/21/22 Marshfield sued us. Marshfield v. Harris, Vermont Superior Court. Point #5 on the first page states “The Town, through this enforcement action filed pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 4470, seeks an injunction barring Defendant from further operation of any camp on the Property, and further seeks the maximum penalties available under law.”

There are better ways to address these issues in a small town.

Petition by
Plainfield, Vermont

To: Marshfield Vermont Selectboard
From: [Your Name]

Dear members of the Marshfield Selectboard,

I'm writing regarding the town's lawsuit against Henry Harris as relates to the 2021 youth-focused Uprise Camp, an event permitted in previous years without issue but denied due to a late permit application. I’m writing to ask that you drop the lawsuit Marshfield v. Harris in favor of supporting the First Amendment right to free assembly. This suit is an unnecessary use of Marshfield's collective tax dollars and is an inappropriate way to resolve this matter in the town.

Please contact your legal team and withdraw this case from Vermont Superior Court.

Respectfully yours,