By Mark Kobzik
The Shelburne selectboard members did not make a decision in regard to its ongoing legal battle with Vermont Railway Inc. The Tuesday night meeting left some frustrated at the indecision and others hoping the town appeals.
Selectboard members exited executive session after approximately an hour of deliberation stating they’re not ready to make any motion on the appeal. The next meeting to address this issue will be Jan. 2 at 6 p.m.
The town has the opportunity to appeal U.S Court District Judge Sesssions’ ruling within 30 days of his final judgement order. The almost two-year legal tussle has left the town with more than $400,000 in legal bills and heated disagreements over whether or not to pursue further appeals. This week’s meeting heard from both sides of the aisle including Nora von Stange.
Von Stange stated her decision to speak up on behalf of going forward with the appeal was not as the wife of Chair Gary von Stange, but as a litigation attorney and resident of Shelburne.
She stated the town should not rely on the decision of one judge and that appeal courts, with three judges, are more reliable. She said the town shouldn’t compromise its independence and instead set a precedent for other towns fighting railroads.
Other residents attending the meeting have long been opposed to fighting a battle they deem as unwinnable. John Saar labeled further battles against the railroad as a “folly”. Saar pled with those on the board who aren’t, “hellbent ton going forward with appeals”.
Budget discussions focused on Fire and Rescue’s frugality. Both departments are volunteer which saves the town more than a million dollars a year. Paid stipends for the Fire Department is less than $50,000 a year whereas if they were a career, full-time station, that number would be more than a million dollars.
Toward the end of the meeting, members re-entered executive session to discuss Town Manager Joe Colangelo’s attorney’s letter to the board from last month. The letter from the attorney requested the board clarify its knowledge of the firing of police chief Jim Warden.
Gary von Stange in response to the letter read aloud a statement from the board.
“The board had knowledge and was involved in the decisions leading to the settlement with the police chief. And at no time did any selectboard member question Joe’s conduct, professionalism or integrity,” von Stange said.