July 5, 2016
A federal district court ruling issued last week by U.S. District Judge William Sessions cleared the way for Vermont Railway to develop a rail spur and move its road salt transportation and storage operation to the town of Shelburne.
The judge ruled the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA) preempts the town’s assertion that the project needs local zoning approval prior to construction. However, the decision did not uphold that preemption for all local zoning regulations that might apply to the project in the future.
The ruling notes that plans for the Vermont Railway project are not finalized and, therefore, the town can not currently specify what zoning regulations might be applied to the project. So the court left the door open as to whether future town enforcement efforts can be federally preempted.