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Nuisance: In Vermont, Ugly Is Still Not A 'Nuisance'

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Vermont's high court upheld a 120-year-old rule that a private nuisance claim cannot be based solely on aesthetic concerns.

Facts: Peck Electric Company and Solarcommunities, Inc. (defendants) leased land in Vermont for the purpose of building commercial solar arrays. Neighboring landowners sued the defendants for private nuisance, alleging that the solar arrays ''negatively affected the surrounding area's rural aesthetic,'' which in turn caused property values to decline. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of Vermont, which affirmed.

Analysis: Like most states, Vermont does not recognize ''aesthetic nuisance'' as a legally cognizable claim. Vermont's high court set that rule down in 1896, stating that ''the law will not declare a thing a nuisance because it is unsightly or disfigured, nor because it is not in a proper and suitable condition, nor because it is unpleasant to the eye, and[...]

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