By Thomas Catenacci
The owner of a Vermont shooting range is refusing to comply with a court order shutting down his business and fining him nearly $50,000 for zoning permit violations, according to the Associated Press.
Daniel Banyai, the owner of Slate Ridge shooting range in Pawlet, Vermont, said he plans to openly defy the court order and is in the process of hiring a constitutional attorney, according to the AP. In March, a Vermont Environmental Court judge ordered Banyai to immediately dismantle unpermitted structures located on the property.
“We are not going to do that,” Banyai told the AP. “We have not done anything wrong, we haven’t done anything illegal.”
Judge Thomas Durkin ruled that the facility, which markets itself as an educational facility with staff trained in shooting proficiency and personal protection, has operated without the proper permits for any of its structures since 2017 when Banyai founded the business, the AP reported. Banyai argued that his business is safe and environmentally friendly.
Durkin ordered Banyai to pay $46,603, or $100 for every day since he was first served for the violations 466 days prior to the ruling, according to VTDigger.
People who live near the facility have complained that the gunfire makes them feel unsafe and scared, VTDigger reported. However, law enforcement hasn’t intervened, saying there isn’t evidence of wrongdoing, according to the AP.
“I’m labeled as the most dangerous man in the state of Vermont,” Banyai said, according to the AP. He added that he was against violence “in that sense.”
Slate Ridge’s 30-acre property is only allowed to have a garage with an apartment, according to state law, the AP reported. Banyai, though, has built a 500-square foot building and invested $1.6 million in the property, court documents said.
“If the town of Pawlet believes that having a picnic on your land, consuming food with friends and family and shooting guns is illegal, we’ll just have to put it into the hands of the court,” Banyai said during an event he hosted last week, according to the AP.
Banyai has also been accused of harassing and doxxing neighbors who he has disagreed with, according to VTDigger. Banyai has allegedly posted photos and personal information about neighbors, town officials and reporters who he has sparred with in the past.
A local court recently served Banyai with a no-stalking order after he posted a video of a vehicle with the name of his neighbor’s business written on it, VTDigger reported. The vehicle’s door had bullet holes in it.
Durkin noted Banyai’s record of refusing to comply with the court throughout his trial, according to VTDigger.
“Mr. Banyai’s record of compliance has been horrendous,” Durkin wrote in the March ruling, the VTDigger reported. “His non-compliance continued through the date of our trial.”
A GoFundMe page for Slate Ridge was created in January to raise money needed to pay for legal expenses. The page said the Town of Pawlet is attempting to “zone Slate Ridge out of existence.”
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