On August 10, 2017

Rutland region report 8/9

By Lani Duke

Biz bits

The Palms Restaurant, 36 Strongs Ave., has formally changed its name to The Palms Restaurant- Downtown Rutland, to further differentiate from its younger sister restaurant, The Palms at Prospect Bay on Lake Bomoseen.

The Rutland County Habitat for Humanity gained two new board members: Jenna Watson and John Braun. Watson, an employee of People’s United Bank, plans to work on the community relations committee. Braun, chief financial officer at the Vermont Achievement Center, joins the board’s finance committee.

Sullivan sentence remains 4 to 10 years

Judge Theresa DiMauro announced that Christopher Sullivan’s original sentence in the 2013 hit-and-run death of Mary Jane Outslay would remain in place regardless of Dr. Thomas Powell’s assertion that Sullivan’s involuntary fight-or flight response had kicked in, according to the Aug. 4 Rutland Herald. Sullivan shirked his legal and moral responsibility, Judge DiMauro explained in her position.

In April 2017, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld Sullivan’s 2015 conviction of DUI with death resulting and leaving the scene of a fatal accident but said the court should have allowed the defendant time during the sentencing process to present expert witness testimony regarding the former city attorney’s actions immediately following the crash. At the Aug. 3 hearing, Powell said he interviewed both Sullivan Sullivan’s wife and reviewed trial records plus documents that Sullivan’s acquaintances had submitted in support. Sullivan was overwhelmed by the accident, Powell said.

Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan questioned Powell’s claim that Sullivan lost his ability to reason because of the trauma from the accident, saying the attorney lied to his son on the phone and told the police he did not know what he had hit.

Two years of incarceration is punishment enough, defense attorney Joshua O’Hara countered, arguing for suspended sentence on condition of performing community service.

Sullivan himself spoke, saying he feels daily overwhelming guilt and admitted he was drinking and driving, that he did not understand his own actions that day, and that he is praying for the Outslay family.

In announcing her decision to continue the originally imposed sentence, Judge DiMauro cited that the 17-hour delay after the accident before Sullivan came forward, and his claim of not realizing what he hit, as more typical of an inexperienced teenage driver.

Death penalty trial more than a year away

Unrelated pretrial motions that remain to be resolved are delaying 37-year-old Donald Fell’s retrial in the November 2000 abduction and murder of Teresa (Terri) King (53), federal Judge Geoffrey Crawford wrote, indicating that the retrial may be postponed for a year or even longer, according to VTDigger. Juror misconduct caused a judge to throw out Fell’s original conviction and death sentence.

Fell’s defense team asked for additional time, delaying a scheduled February hearing until September. In June prosecutors appealed the exclusion of some specific statements by Fell’s alleged accomplice Robert Lee (who died in prison in 2001). Crawford has turned down the prosecutors’ request to resolve other issues in the meantime because they may be affected by the appeal.

Spartan Arena Dome installation planned

The wait is nearly over. The inflatable Spartan Arena Dome will rise after a four-year wait. The Act 250 permitting process caused the delay, said Castleton spokesman Jeff Weld.

Castleton-hired consultants moved two “uncommon” plants from the site to suitable locations nearby: 26 clumps of fringed gentian and seven clumps of a mountain mint. A third uncommon plant type found on the site (altogether the size of a football field) is a broadleaf rush. Although these plants are uncommon, they are not protected under Act 250, wrote Bob Popp, Vermont Fish & Wildlife botanist, as he gave approval for the Act 250 permit.

Weld blames the delay not on the plant discovery but on the state wetlands and stormwater discharge permit required for the site, according to the Rutland Herald.

The permit is considered an amendment to the Act 250 permit for Spartan Arena, completed in 2009, and is in the public comment phase of the process. With the Act 250 permit awarded, presumably in August, Castleton is set to apply for Rutland Town permits.

Middlebury College gave the dome to Castleton in 2013 when Middlebury built a new fieldhouse. The dome itself, known as “The Bubble” on the Middlebury campus, weighs about 24,000 pounds; its additional components, 10,000, according to a Middlebury College press release.

If construction is completed this fall, the dome may be used this winter. Until then, it remains in storage at the Patch-Wegner building on Howe Street.

Museum may go from paint to pot

A Burlington-based law firm attorney has approached Rutland Town Administrator Joe Zingale on behalf of Mendon-based Lily Pad Organics Inc., that wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary at the Norman Rockwell Museum location, 654 U.S. Rt. 4. The museum’s commercially zoned site with building is presently for sale at $275,000.

Department of Public Safety Marijuana Program administrator Lindsey Wells said her department received seven applications before the July 28 deadline, but was unable to say what locations were proposed. Rutland Town is not the only possible location as permitted by the state. Each application contains more than 200 pages, Wells told the Rutland Herald.

An attorney with Gravel & Shea asked for Lily Pad to be placed on the next Select Board meeting agenda, VTDigger reported. The firm is representing the company, which names Daniel Reilly Jr. and Daniel Reilly Sr. as principals.

Zingale said he has confirmed that the site is more than 1,000 feet from a school or a daycare, a key element of state restrictions. However, Zingale told the Herald that Act 250 regulations could apply, due to the fact that Rutland town has no zoning ordinance.

State fair carnival rides are safe

No one need fear taking a whirl on the rides coming to the Vermont State Fair Aug. 15-19, fair officials promise. Rutland County Agricultural Society vice president Robert Congdon explained to the Rutland Herald that the Amusements of America unit operating in Vermont has little connection to the one that an Ohio teen was riding when it broke and he died July 26.

The parent company has repeatedly supplied its offerings at the Rutland fair without any problems, Congdon continued. The fair association adheres to Vermont state safety requirements and continually has a state fire marshal on site.

Rooster crowing disturbs Rutland peace

The charter and ordinance committee of the Rutland Board of Aldermen listened to Jeffrey Fredette’s complaint about Zachary Fitch’s natural alarm clock, a pen of roosters and chickens who loudly greet the morning from the other side of Fredette’s back property line on Curtis Avenue. The city administration already has a process at work to deal with the noise concern; Fitch has already received municipal tickets from city health officer and Assistant Building Inspector Michael Brookman. Each ticket bears the citation of “crowing rooster” and a $50 fine.

VTDigger reported that city ordinances do not ban roosters specifically. They do, however, ban keeping fowl who are offensive or a nuisance to the neighbors.

Alderman William Notte said that he understands the complaints. On the other hand, the aldermen are reluctant to take the drastic step of barring everyone from keeping a pen of quiet, non-odoriferous chickens.

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