Town partially opposes Vermont Railway’s motion for final judgement

The Town of Shelburne has filed a motion opposing in part Vermont Railway’s request to finalize the proceedings in U.S. District Court regarding the railroad’s lawsuit over construction of a salt storage and distribution facility off U.S. Route 7 near the LaPlatte River.

The court ruled late last month that the town could not subject the railroad’s development plans to zoning review because federal law exempts railroads from such scrutiny.

The town’s motion last week comes as the court finalizes its work on the case.

The town specifically is asking the court to address the issue of the town’s ability to exercise its police powers regarding enforcement of existing laws as they may pertain to the railroad’s operation in Shelburne.

According to Town Manager Joe Colangelo, the town has the authority to enforce regulations and ordinances to ensure the health, safety and general welfare of the community.

In the initial case decided in 2016, the court ruled that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA) exempts railroads from many local and state regulatory processes such as those that may have applied to Vermont Railway’s salt sheds. But the Court reserved judgment on whether the ICCTA would also preempt Shelburne from exercising its police powers on future issues.

“This was one of the unanswered questions in the judge’s decision,” Colangelo explained.

The Town’s partial opposition to Vermont Railway’s motion to end the case argues that the court’s final judgment should specifically address its view on this issue.

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