Environmental group to bankroll Shelburne salt shed appeal

SHELBURNE — An environmental group is donating $20,000 to the town of Shelburne to help pay for an appeal in a long-running court battle over a Shelburne salt shed owned by Vermont Railway.
The town selectboard voted 3-1 during a special session Tuesday night to accept the money, provided by the Vermont Natural Resources Council. In a letter to town officials, VNRC Executive Director Brian Shupe said the money is simply a donation, and not an attempt to join the litigation.
“Other than making the donation, we will have no role in the appeal. Our donation is strongly for the public purpose of supporting the Town,” Shupe wrote to the town on Dec. 18.
Federal Judge William Sessions III ruled in December that a town ordinance unfairly restricted the Vermont Railway, and that the ordinance was superseded by federal law. The railroad would have been fined daily under the ordinance for storing salt in its Shelburne facility adjacent to the LaPlatte River.
The order was the latest development in long-running battle between the town on one side and the Vermont Railway and Barrett Trucking companies on the other. The companies had worked to develop the project to replace a salt “transloading” operation in Burlington that has closed to make way for the second City Market store. Opponents have repeatedly failed to stop the project.
Some town residents have been upset with the amount of money spent on legal fees, said Shelburne Town Manager Joe Collangio. About $451,000 over three fiscal years has been spent to date on legal fees, Collangio said.
“The belief of the selectboard is that no property tax dollars will be spent on the appeal,” Collangio said.
The selectboard voted 3-1 to accept the money and file the appeal. The town will file the appeal once the VNRC sends a check, according to the meeting minutes.
Selectboard members Colleen Parker, Jaime Heins and Gary von Stange voted in favor of the appeal, and Jerry Storey voted against.
Selectboard member Josh Dein recused himself, in keeping with an agreement reached with the town where Dein will not participate in any matters involving the Vermont Railway dispute. Dein had previously been accused of publicly discussing the litigation, according to a February Burlington Free Press report.
Read the story on VTDigger here: Environmental group to bankroll Shelburne salt shed appeal.