GREAT BARRINGTON — Trucks rumbling past houses in the early morning hours is nothing new, according to a state Land Court judge.

And it can continue while the court considers an appeal by the owners of Irish Trucking against a Zoning Board of Appeals decision that curbs some of the company's activity.

The trucks, with their noise and diesel fumes, have been rolling down the hill on Roger Road as early as 5:15 a.m. for at least 22 years, if not longer.

"Twenty-two trips a day in total, eleven out and eleven back, traveling within the speed limit over a familiar road will have an impact on the neighbors to be sure," according to a ruling issued last week. "But it will not be a new type of impact."

The preliminary injunction issued Sept. 27 stops the town from enforcing conditions placed on the company by the ZBA, which attempted to ease the strain on area residents in the path of the trucks.

The town and owners of the property have been locking horns for more than 20 years about how much industrial activity is allowed on land in this residential neighborhood east of Stockbridge Road. The property been used by trucking companies since 1929, which predates zoning laws.

After Building Inspector Edwin May issued a cease and desist order in November, residents began complaining to town officials of an increase in noise and activity, and wondering why the town couldn't enforce its own orders. It was all brought to a head at the ZBA, which in April ruled the heavy trucks couldn't leave earlier than 6 a.m., among other restrictions.

But Kristen O'Brien, who owns the company with her husband, Gary, said the trucks have to leave at 5:30 a.m. at the latest to get to job sites on time.

So the O'Briens appealed the ZBA decision to the state Land Court, and sought the injunction to prevent the town from enforcing the ZBA ruling while that case was pending.

That injunction allows the O'Briens to revert to a 1996 legal agreement that allows trucks to leave the property at 5:30 a.m.

In addition to noting the company's long history at the site, the judge also noted the O'Briens have a good chance of winning this legal battle, which could take another year.

The trial is set for October 2019, according to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin.

Town attorneys are opposing the Land Court injunction, saying that among other violations, the company is not adhering to the 1996 agreement.

"This is just the beginning," said Select Board Chairman Stephen Bannon.

As a way to resolve the dispute outside the courts, some have proposed the town purchase the property.

The town last summer proposed to voters that it buy the property for $298,000 with money from a real estate fund also failed. Taxpayers wouldn't have been on the hook for it, and it would have allowed the O'Briens to move their business. But that plan was rejected last summer, and the O'Briens have since upped their asking price to $350,000.

Kristen O'Brien, who was in Southern Berkshire District Court on Wednesday to fight around $2,000 in violation tickets from the building inspector, said the situation has not been adequately explained to taxpayers.

"The townspeople are paying all these lawyers' fees," said O'Brien, who said she has spent $20,000 on legal fees over the last year.

Neighbors also want the town to buy the property. They've begun circulating a petition to hold another special town meeting for voters to take a newshot at it.

"Maybe the town didn't present the case in a way that was strong enough," said Michael Andelman, of Blue Hill Road, who claimed that tractor-trailers are now rolling out of the property.

And meanwhile, the legal expense clock keeps on ticking for everyone, O'Brien noted.

"It's not cheap," she said.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.