Slate Ridge owner back in court over civil contempt allegations

Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a land dispute that made its way all the way up to the Vermont Supreme Court. The town of Pawlet vs. Daniel Banyai was back before a judge in Rutland Friday.

“541 Briar Hill Road, West Pawlet Vermont,” testified Daniel Banyai.

Banyai bought that West Pawlet property in 2013. In 2017, town officials say he began operating a firearms training facility without the proper permits. After noise complaints and other concerns from neighbors, the town took Banyai to court. Last year, a judge ordered him to end any firearms training, pay thousands in fines, and remove all unpermitted buildings. Banyai appealed that decision to the Vermont Supreme Court but lost.

Banyai acknowledged he was aware the court imposed obligations on him that he must complete in order to comply with the directives of the court. He ended the shooting and paid upwards of $50,000 in fines. But according to court documents, he still has not removed the unpermitted structures. Town officials now want the court to impose civil contempt sanctions, which could include jail time, until he complies with the court order.

Banyai Friday told the court that he is taking steps to remove at least one of the structures. “I purchased a trailer that was strong enough to go underneath the school. I raised the school and put the school on top of the trailer so that in the future I could dismantle it, sell it, repurpose it somehow,” he said.

His defense team also argues that the language in the order is vague and some of the structures -- 20 in all -- were built after the original violation notice.

The judge did not make a ruling Friday but rather gave the town until the end of the month to file a post-hearing brief to which Banyai will have the opportunity to respond.

Outside the courtroom, we asked Banyai if he wanted to comment on the case but be declined.

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