Town seeks foreclosure on unpermitted Pawlet firing range
The Vermont town of Pawlet is moving to foreclose on a property with an unpermitted firing range whose owner has not paid a fine of more than $52,000 that is accruing interest daily.
In a Monday filing in Vermont Superior Court in Rutland, the town asked for the judgment against Daniel Banyai, the owner of Slate Ridge Vermont, after the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in January that the fine imposed by a lower court last year was correct.
In a separate filing last month, the town renewed its request that the state Environmental Court hold Banyai in contempt for failing to abide by the March 2021 judgement that imposed the original fine of $46,600 that is subject to 12% interest. As of March 14, Banyai owed a total of $52,149.43.
The town also requested that Banyai “be jailed if he fails to demonstrate compliance with the Court’s injunction within 30 days, and that such imprisonment continue until Defendant demonstrates compliance,” the motion said.
Slate Ridge neighbors have complained for some time about gunfire at the facility and what they claimed were threats and intimidation by Banyai and his supporters. Many of the neighbors of Slate Ridge say they are afraid to talk publicly because of fears for their safety.
Banyai has not responded in court to either the foreclosure motion or the renewed motion for civil contempt. He did not return a call and message Thursday seeking comment.
While Banyai has been ordered to remove the unpermitted structures on the property, the town’s February motion said that in the previous eight weeks neighbors had seen construction materials being delivered to the site and on Jan. 16 neighbors saw Banyai “haul a large shed onto the Property.”
A hearing on the town’s renewed contempt order is scheduled for April 18 in Environmental Court.
Banyai bought the property in 2013 and sometime in 2017 he began operating what he calls a firearms training facility. The 30-acre property property is only permitted to have a garage with an apartment.
Around the time Banyai began operating the shooting range, he erected a 500-square-foot structure to serve as the training center and a number of outdoor shooting ranges, all without necessary zoning permits.