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Owner of militia training center loses Vt. Supreme Court appeal

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 2:07 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The owner of a Pawlet paramilitary training center who has butted heads with town officials and neighbors over zoning violations has lost his appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Daniel Banyai opened the Slate Ridge Shooting Center in 2017 before he sought permission from the local zoning board. When he finally did apply for a permit, it was denied. In 2018, he then went before the local development review board which determined a variance was not needed for his driveway. Neighbors then took Banyai to state environmental court, arguing he opened the facility without proper zoning approval. This spring, that court ruled Banyai had to shut down and pay some $46,000. While those legal proceedings were happening, Banyai was ultimately granted a building permit by a zoning administrator.

In Banyai’s appeal to the high court, he argued the environmental court overstepped its authority in shutting down the shooting range, and that the zoning administrator’s permit he received is valid. The town contended that the permit was invalid because he missed a deadline. In a ruling Friday, the Vermont Supreme Court agreed.

The local zoning issues surrounding Slate Ridge are just the tip of the iceberg. Neighbors have complained for years about the sound of gunfire and alleged threats from Banyai. They’ve also been frustrated by the response from state police who previously said Banyai wasn’t doing anything illegal.

Supporters of Slate Ridge contend Banyai is exercising his Second Amendment rights and educates community members on how to be responsible gun owners.

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