The public benefits of rail spurs

In accordance with the provision in the Vermont Constitution designating non-attorney side judges to hear cases, advise, (and even-horrors-over-rule) real-attorney judges in some legal situations, your humble scribe proposes in these column-inches to dispute the recently-proffered legal opinion that the planned OMYA Middlebury rail spur, across U.S. Route 7 and bisecting Halladay Road, question should be seen in the dim light of a near-forgotten 19th century statute.

That's the one from the era of steam locomotives granting railroads eminent domain rights to acquire right-of-way land to extend trackage (where the railroad companies thought they could sell enough passenger tickets and freight waybills to make a profit for shareholders on the transportation service). I won't dwell, here, on the denigration of the profit motive in contemporary Vermont circles, but I will note that regarding those statutes, some lawyers are already observing, are "arch-aic".

For readers in East Overshoe, that's, like, y'know, really old and, I mean, totally obsolete and stuff, and not to be confused with controlling as in arch-bishop or ruling bishop or "arch-i-tect" or master builder.

These laws are almost as ancient (thus, in the Progressive view, antiquated and overdue-for-modernization with "living" penumbras and emanations) as the national and state constitutions which originally authorized them.

The laws may qualify for one of the many contemporary meanings of gnarly. I'll just take "archaic" as a chosen pejorative adjective-used-as-noun specifically intended to bias public opinion against the-ugh-involved corporations.

That's, primarily, the presumptively evil for-profit private one (OMYA) which quarries marble, and only secondarily, the presumptively noble-for-loss public one (Vermont Railway) which now owns most of the rail rights-of-way in Vermont (and runs most of the trains on rights-of-ways mostly acquired, originally, from unwilling land-owners through eminent domain in the mid-19th century).

Readers old enough to have been in school when civics was taught, and a brief exposure to the national constitution (what an archaic educational notion!) was required, already know that, within the Bill of Rights' Amendment V, the final phrase reads thus "...Nor shall private property be taken for public use without compensation."

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