Attorney Ron Shems was present at the April 5 meeting of the Moretown Select Board to review what he said was "a very favorable decision" from a Vermont Environmental Court judge.
Shems told town officials that the Vermont Environmental Court judge
apologized for taking so long to issue the denial ruling on Rich Rivers'
appeals for a proposed quarry on Route 100B. Rivers' appeals for state
and local permits merged at the Environmental Court and were denied
following a lengthy deliberation.
Shems told select board members that the 71-page decision handed down from the court is "very fact-centric" and, as a result, would be difficult for Rivers to appeal, he said.
He also said that Rivers' attorneys have requested an extension on the timeframe to file appeals, but said "given how in-depth the judge's opinion" is, would make an appeal difficult.
Shems said the town's arguments were "fairly solid" and that they didn't battle all 10 of the criteria; instead they focused on the traffic by the Moretown Elementary School, supporting the decision of the Development Review Board and upholding the character of the town, which he said was ultimately what the town "prevailed upon."
The deadline to file appeals could be extended to April 28, and Shems said he wouldn't know the length of the appeal process until he saw the opposing arguments.
If Rivers does decide to appeal, the case would go to the Vermont Supreme Court and be decided by five judges. Shems said that an appeal to the Supreme Court would not involve witness testimony, only legal arguments, and could take a year. The case would be decided by a 3/5 majority.
Rivers was originally denied a conditional use permit from the DRB in 2004 and later denied an Act 250 permit in 2007; he appealed both decisions which were merged at the Environmental Court.
Select board chair John Hoogenboom said that the judge's apology for taking so long was a positive indicator that the town was not drawing out the process.
The proposed quarry would have occupied 93 acres north of Moretown Village.