"The question is whether or not the maintenance and repair of non-logging equipment is a pre-existing use," said the Town of Dorset's attorney, Joseph O'Dea.
The Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court has allowed Transtar to continue their sawmill operation, firewood processing operation and the maintenance and repair of logging vehicles, but denied a motion for a summary judgment on the permissibility of repairing and maintaining other vehicles, not used for logging purposes, according to the decision filed with the court on May 24.
The matter was originally called into question due to a complaint filed by David Wilson - a neighbor of Transtar, LLC - who stated that the operations on Transtar's site were occurring in violation of the Town's Zoning Bylaw.
"The ZBA heard a complaint that the former sawmill had been converted to a commercial third party business without a permit or change of use and the firewood business needed a site development plan and a conditional use permit," said Wilson in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "The ZBA made rulings on those and Transtar appealed the ZBA decisions."
Wilson also said that the complaint spoke to the issue of maintenance
"The complaint was that the former mill had been abandoned for a number of years and had been renovated and converted into a commercial diesel repair garage without a permit," he said. "Diesel repair garages are allowed in the commercial zone, but not in the rural agricultural zone."
Following a decision by Dorset Zoning Administrator Tyler Yandow that Transtar's operations were a lawful continuation of the prior owner's pre-existing use, Wilson appealed to the ZBA. The ZBA then determined that some, but not all, of the uses of property owned by Transtar could be defined as lawful, pre-existing, if non-conforming uses. Transtar subsequently appealed the ZBA's decision to the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court, according to the decision.
The court, in part, granted summary judgment to Transtar on the issue of logging vehicles because the town conceded that their maintenance and repair lawfully existed prior to the adoption of the bylaws on March 6, 1973, according to the decision.
Several attempts to contact Transtar's attorney David R. Cooper of the Rutland- based law firm Kenlan Schwiebert Facey & Goss P.C. for comment were unsuccessful.