PAWLET — Slate Ridge, the name of the West Pawlet property owned by Daniel Banyai that has been at the center of a running dispute with the town and neighbors, has been registered with the state as a domestic nonprofit corporation.
“Slate Ridge Incorporated” is listed on the Secretary of State’s website under the Corporations Division section as a registered business, which became official Aug. 25; the filing says the business is one month old.
Banyai has had his share of difficulties in the past year. He recently canceled a planned site visit related to a challenge of his tax assessment and told town officials he had been exposed to COVID-19. He then let a deadline pass to hold the visit or reschedule, which could be considered the end of the process for his challenge, although that had not yet been decided by press time.
Town officials had planned to bar him entry to the town office at a Tuesday meeting after he and an associate refused to wear a mask or leave the buildings a couple of weeks ago. Coupled with the claim of being exposed to the coronavirus, officials had decided to keep the door locked during the planned meeting.
For more than a year, Banyai has been fighting with neighbors over noise and traffic related to the operation of Slate Ridge, which a year ago was hosting classes that would attract dozens of attendees who would fire hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds in a weekend.
He has also been at odds with the town over land-use permits and currently only has one valid permit for one building on the property, which according to videos and eyewitness accounts, has multiple buildings ranging from a classroom facility to a dorm that can house multiple people with bathrooms and a kitchen. There are shooting facilities, and Banyai has reportedly cleared four ranges; he has bragged on social media that he's preparing a 1,000-yard range.
Banyai has challenged the town's zoning efforts, losing in the state Supreme Court, and he's currently challenging an Environmental Court decision that assesses $46,600 in fines and ordered that he cease all activities at the facility and deconstruct all unpermitted improvements, which, Banyai has told multiple sources, amount to $1.6 million.
But most recently, Banyai registered Slate Ridge with the Secretary of State.
Its business description is “Charitable Organization, Church or Religious Organization, or Private Foundation.”
Secretary of State Jim Condos said his office “does not make a determination or comment on what entity type a business [or corporation] can or should register.”
“If we are asked, we advise that they discuss all their options with their legal counsel in order to make the right choice,” Condos said. “We have no authority to investigate, enforce or audit the filing representations made by corporations — we accept the filing as long as it is correctly filed, and the fee is paid. We do not have any say over what a business decides to designate themselves. Having said that, the IRS might care.”
The registered agent’s name for the business is Daniel S. Banyai, and the physical address is listed as Honvend Security Solutions, 541 Briar Hill Road, West Pawlet.
Banyai also has his Honvend Security Solutions registered with the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office as an assumed business name.
That registration, in Banyai’s name and at the same address, is dated Nov. 5, 2018, and expires November 2023.
Its North American Industry Classification System Code is “Educational Services” with a subcode for “Educational Support.”
Banyai has previously tried to change his permit applications to the town of Pawlet to a school, to take advantage of different zoning requirements.
While Banyai has long-called his shooting facility “Slate Ridge,” there aren’t any businesses with that name listed with the Secretary of State’s Office in a records search. Nor does the name come up anywhere except when Banyai refers to it that way.
In fact, Banyai has said repeatedly in court and in response to questions, that Slate Ridge wasn’t a business and that the only people who ever used the facility there were “friends and family.”
Slate Ridge’s social media sites regularly advertised various tactical shooting classes and training such as vehicle assault classes, National Rifle Association range safety officer classes, and trauma wound care.
Banyai's Federal Firearms License and other types of licenses that allow him to own fully automatic firearms and explosives have not been renewed. That license allows a person to engage in firearms businesses, including shipping them.
Efforts to reach Pawlet town officials were unsuccessful, and a call place to Banyai’s cell phone went unanswered. Banyai has said no comment, in perpetuity, to the Journal.