Town officials in Moretown are prepared to spend an amount not to exceed $3,000 to cover anticipated legal costs for filing a rebuttal in the previously denied Rivers' quarry project on Route 100B.
Select board members approved the expenditure at their May 17 meeting. Last month the Vermont Environmental Court denied Rivers' application citing non-conformance with the Town Plan and the undue adverse impact it would have on the town's scenic corridor.
The decision was the result of the combined appeal of an Act 250 denial
and an appeal of the town's denial for a conditional use permit for the
proposed quarry on 96 acres north of Moretown Village.
Rivers' attorney, Jim Caffry, filed for a reconsideration citing legal errors and mistakes in the original decision. Select board members said that Shems had communicated that he felt the town still had a very strong case and that Caffry's motion for reconsideration was "nit picking."
In his filing, Caffry argued that the court's ruling contained flaws in legal reasoning, errors in legal conclusions and also flaws in how the court applied the law. In addition, Caffry refuted the court's analysis of whether the project conforms to the Moretown Town Plan; Route 100B is designated a scenic corridor by the state of Vermont.
Caffry also asserted that the court failed to make key findings and argued that it is "inappropriate or contrary to the Vermont law to use a scenic byway as a means to oppose a development project," he wrote.
Judge Durkin, in his Environmental Court ruling on the quarry, sited the status of Route 100B as a scenic byway as one reason for finding the quarry would have an undue adverse impact.
Shems estimated that the town would be responsible for approximately $3,000 since the neighbors are willing to assume a portion of the cost. Select board members said they would approve the expenditure should it not exceed the $3,000 mark.
The town's legal budget is "still in pretty good shape," according to select board chair John Hoogenboom who made a motion to allow Shems to file his findings under the condition that the amount not exceed $3,000 and that any future costs would have to be put to a townwide vote.
If the appeal process continues, the case will go before the Vermont Supreme Court and would take at least a year in court, according to town officials. If the case does go to the Supreme Court, select board members agreed that additional spending would first have to be approved by the voters.
Should the case go before the Vermont Supreme Court, no additional evidence will be presented.