Court orders new hearing in Railway case

After Tuesday’s hearing, a group of concerned citizens gathered outside of the U.S. Court House in Burlington to discuss their thoughts on the Town’s case against Vermont Railway. Photos by Boston Neary
After Tuesday’s hearing, a group of concerned citizens gathered outside of the U.S. Court House in Burlington to discuss their thoughts on the Town’s case against Vermont Railway. Photos by Boston Neary

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Who owns the Vermont Railway intermodal facility in Shelburne, and who is developing it? These questions were at the heart of Tuesday’s hearing in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

District Judge William K. Sessions III, the same judge who heard the original case in May, ordered Vermont Railway to obtain the loan documents from Barrett Trucking. The trucking company secured financing for the intermodal facility from the State Infrastructure Bank and Merchants Bank.

Judge Sessions ordered both parties to move quickly on obtaining and reviewing the financial documents that were requested and present them for discovery. Once those materials are in hand, the judge will set a date for a new hearing.

“We are glad that, like us, the court is curious to find out more about the loan documents,” Town Manager Joe Colangelo said.

The judge, however, did not grant the Town’s motion to temporarily halt the building of Vermont Railway’s transload facility, based on incomplete information provided to the court.

Tuesday’s hearing was granted based on information obtained by the Town in September. The documents the Town obtained showed that Barrett Trucking had received a $1,457,883.00 loan “to fund a portion of the construction of a transload intermodal facility located on land owned by Vermont Railway in Shelburne Vermont” as well as additional funding of a $2,500,000.00 loan. The Town argued that the transload facility “is clearly a Barrett Trucking project.”

The Judge had originally ruled in favor of Vermont Railway on June 29, because of federal preemption, and in part because Barrett Trucking was to be the facility operator – they had no financial interest in the property and no control over any of the activities there.

The goal of the hearing was to ascertain who owns the property and who is developing it. During the hearing, the Judge asked for information on what Barrett Trucking had used for the security of the loan. Vermont Railway did not have the Barrett Trucking information.

However, with Barrett Trucking receiving the loan, it was argued that since the loan process was overseen by the SIB, the question arose as to whether there was misrepresentation to the bank over the use of the loan and whether the loan was structured to avoid a National Environmental Policy Act review. The SIB program is operated by the Vermont Economic Development Authority in conjunction with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The program assists in the construction of highways, as well as facilities related to rail transit.

“This isn’t Shelburne against the railway. We are just trying to ensure local rules are followed to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the community,” said Colangelo.

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