At least seven Norwich property owners received by regular mail in late January a bogus notice of zoning violation. The notices, a redacted example is below, allege a right of way violation with respect to a fence or structure. Public officials do not consider this a harmless prank and police are investigating. Impersonating a town officer is a crime in Vermont.
Whether the motivation is to embarrass the Town or annoy the resident, the scheme seems odd. Town of Norwich Director of Planning and Zoning Rod Francis, who also is the Town's Zoning Administrator, agreed, saying in an email: "It is extremely odd. It has never happened to me before. I don’t know of this happening to anyone else."
I suppose this doesn't qualify as a scam, because no money is being sought. Still, it is problematic for people who receive the fake notice. Imagine getting home one evening, as you sort and open the mail, you find a notice like the one above. Disconcerting, to say the least.
Mr. Francis told me by email: "It is extremely upsetting to me that the perpetrator has been so thoughtless and callous. Innocent recipients of this bogus notice have become very agitated and understandably distressed. They are rightly concerned that a resident has been invading their privacy and may be observing them in unwarranted ways. The reaction has been that this behavior is very creepy. The Town’s reaction has been to offer additional police awareness and vigilance."
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