Residents of an East Hardwick, Vermont neighborhood that endured and then fought the pollution and noise of heavy-duty truck idling daily in a Compact Residential zoning district for nearly nine years won a Notice of Violation (NOV) judgment order from the State of Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division on March 4, 2015 that effectively prohibits a trucking company from continuing operation of commercial truck tractors in that district.
John Mandeville, an appellant in the case, following issuance of judgment, stated, “…the whole neighborhood is much relieved that this is over and that we were successful in our case before the Environmental Court and, as a result, we will get our nice, quiet village back.”
A summary of the facts in the case is as follows:
A trucking company has owned property in an East Hardwick Compact Residential neighborhood since 2006, with two trucking -related businesses registered at their address. Residents of two properties, who are the appellants in the case, are located next to and across the street from the trucking company. The street encompasses a quiet neighborhood of residential dwellings.
The trucking company has had two diesel-powered commercial truck tractors (that pull trailers) stored on their property, used for long- and short-haul trucking.
On-site maintenance on the tractors combined with long warm-up periods resulted in prolonged engine idling. The idling occurred for up to 45 minutes at a time at all hours of the day or night. Associated with this idling were noise, vibrations, and diesel exhaust fumes that would prevent the appellants from opening their windows or sitting on their porches.
The Environmental Court judgment overturned a Town of Hardwick Development Review Board determination in favor of the trucking company, ruling that they were not in compliance with Town Bylaws; the Town intends to abide by the court’s decision.
In the wake of this case, it is important to note that (1) engine manufacturers and experts in the trucking industry make it clear that prolonged idling is rarely necessary and (2) continued exposure to vehicle exhaust chemicals, particularly from heavy-duty vehicles, is harmful to human health. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable. These exhaust chemicals can cause cancer and respiratory illness such as asthma; Vermont has elevated levels of asthma.
Idle-Free VT Inc. is a 501©3 nonprofit organization with a goal of raising awareness of unnecessary vehicle idling in Vermont primarily through education. It also encourages adoption of policies and procedures, and enactment of laws, to limit vehicle idling.
Wayne Michaud is the Director, Idle-Free VT Inc., 802-453-5857; firstname.lastname@example.org; idlefreevt.org