State court sides with Old Lantern in ongoing dispute with neighbors

The Vermont Environmental Court last week ruled in the ongoing noise dispute between the Old Lantern Barn and its neighbors, siding with the business that it is operating in compliance with local regulations.

Superior Judge Thomas S. Durkin dismissed the complaint by neighbors of the wedding and event venue, saying the Old Lantern qualifies as a legal pre-existing non-conforming use on Greenbush Road in Charlotte.

The court’s ruling favored previous decisions by Charlotte’s zoning administrator and Zoning Board of Adjustment that denied neighbor’s appeals that claimed the business was operating in violation of local regulations and needed additional permitting review.

The case was filed in state court by Alison and Adrian Wolverton. Other neighbors of the Old Lantern, Michael Frost, Karen Frost, Maura Wygmans, and Justin Wygmans, appeared as Interested Parties in the case. The neighbors objected to noise and cooking smoke and odors from the facility that does a brisk business as a wedding and party venue, particularly in summertime. The neighbors claimed that changes to the kitchen at the Old Lantern should have triggered additional zoning review.

Judge Durkin disagreed and denied the appeal, writing that the Wolvertons and their neighbors did not prove that the Old Lantern changed from catered to on-site food preparation, that it ever operated as a restaurant, or that the venue ever ceased operations for more than six months at a time. Regarding the restaurant allegation, Durkin wrote, “There was no evidence presented of an alteration to this use…In fact, we are disturbed by the complete lack of evidence to substantiate Appellants’ and Interested Persons’ assertions on this point.”

The ruling affirmed Charlotte’s zoning board decision on Dec. 4, 2015 to uphold their Sept. 11, 2015 decision to deny that the Old Lantern Barn was violating any zoning regulations.

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