By Kara Herlihy
Members of the Moretown Select Board say they plan to "stay the course" in their ongoing litigation regarding the proposed quarry project on Route 100B in Moretown. The board plans to finish the year as budgeted, and revisit legal spending in the coming budget 2009 budget season.
The quarry is proposed by Rich Rivers for a portion of 93 acres north of Moretown Village on Route 100B. Rivers applied for and was denied town development review board permits for the quarry in 2004 and was denied an Act 250 permit on two criteria, air quality and Town Plan conformance, in 2007. Rivers appealed both and the appeals were merged at the Environmental court.
Representatives from Moretown Taxpayers for Common Cents were present at the October 20 meeting to discuss the board's written response to the petition they submitted weeks earlier.
"Cents" representative Jack Wood read a statement wherein he called the board's written response "unacceptable" and that the legal costs the town anticipates between now and the end of the year (which includes an upcoming trial in December) is not realistic, based upon passed expenditures.
"We need to stop using town money for legal fees and help keep the quarry in compliance instead," Wood said. "The town should remove itself from the legal process and not spend any more money," he continued.
To date, the town of Moretown has spent an estimated $104,000 since 2004 fighting the proposed quarry project.
Select board members spoke individually on their own behalf, each expressing support for the town's zoning ordinance and the Development Review Board. Select board member Rae Washburn said he believes the select board should "uphold the decision of the DRB and maintain the integrity of the zoning ordinance."
Washburn also said that the legal expenditures exceed the voter-approved amount by approximately $50,000, and he believes that amount should be transferred from the capital reserve into the general fund via an article to be placed on the March ballot, subject to voter approval. He also said that he would be in favor of the select board meeting with Rivers.
Select board member John Hoogenboom echoed Washburn's support of the DRB decision and said, "We have a process that the town has to follow. I'm not pleased with the over spending and agree that this thing has dragged out much too long."
Paula Mastroberardino said that the board "appreciates the petition, which indicates voters' feelings on the subject," but does not plan to act on it, but rather "look at where we are in 2009."
The board discussed the possibility of sending two representatives from the select board to meeting with the applicant, with his attorney and the town's attorney present.