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Man petitions Supreme Court in road case

CAVENDISH, Vt. -- A Massachusetts man fighting with Vermont authorities over wintertime access to his family property hopes to take his case to the US Supreme Court.

Paul Bidgood's lawsuit against the towns of Chester and Cavendish, as well as the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, is over maintenance of a 5-mile stretch of Old Bailey Hill Road, which runs from Proctorsville to Chester and past his family's property.

Bidgood's family has owned the property for 100 years. Bidgood, 48, of Boylston, said he wants to move his family to Vermont and reestablish the family farm. But the road isn't plowed in winter, and he argued it should be maintained year-round.

Bidgood sued in 1998. In June, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled against Bidgood, an engineer with the Central Artery and Third Harbor Tunnel project in Boston. In October, he petitioned to the US Supreme Court. The court has not decided whether it will take the case.

Cavendish Town Manager Richard Svec said the road is too winding and steep to plow in the winter. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation refuses to plow its stretch of the road because it is a snowmobile trail.

Several residents have suggested that Bidgood use the snowmobile trail to reach his property. To do so, he would have to join the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers and pay membership fees.

The association also requires snowmobiles to be registered and insured. Bidgood refuses to join the organization, and argued that a recreation group shouldn't get preference over a property owner.

The state approved the snowmobile trail in the early 1970s. Svec said when Bidgood pointed out that the towns are required to maintain the road, the town changed it to a lower class status that doesn't require plowing.

''Because we couldn't possibly do it, it seemed like the logical thing to do," Svec said.

Bidgood said the town reclassified the road to evade responsibility to maintain it. He also argued Cavendish colluded with Chester on the change.

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