GRAFTON, Mass.—Grafton issued a cease and desist order Wednesday morning to Grafton and Upton Railroad's construction of a propane storage site on Westborough Road claiming the railroad did not prove federal preemption rights and thus violated town bylaws.
The decision to file the order came after an executive session following Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting where Jon Delli Priscoli, owner of the rail line, announced one of four 100 foot propane storage tanks, each capable of holding 80,000 gallons, will be delivered Thursday. The selectmen, town administrator, and the town counsel made the decision to issue the order.
“We feel we do have legal authority to stop the construction,” said Assistant Town Administrator Kevin Mizikar. “With the cease and desist order, those tanks will not be allowed to go on the property. Whether they can get them into town and store them elsewhere is to be determined.”
Mizikar said the town is working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation regarding the movement of the tanks.
The first tank is scheduled to be delivered Thursday afternoon.
The railroad claims they have federal preemption rights and therefore do not have to go through the local channels.
“The Board of Selectmen and neighborhood residents have broad-based concerns with the
construction of such a facility,” the office of the Town Administrator said in a press release. “There are homes, schools, and parks in close proximity to this site. Sufficient documentation has not been provided by the [Grafton & Upton Railroad] related to this construction.”
The town said a fire safety analysis was filed by the railroad with the State Fire Marshall’s Office for site work completed in mid-November. However, the report is still being reviewed. They claim that questions asked in writing to the railroad to fully understand the preemption claim is, to date, unsatisfactory.
“If local authority had authority it would mean something,” said Delli Priscoli in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. He said enough documentation and meetings have been held to determine the preemption status. “We are comfortable with our position and are proceeding as planned.
“The town is playing to a handful of people and they are putting the entire town in jeopardy,” Delli Priscoli added. “We are working within our legal rights. We are providing an affordable energy source to the people.”
When asked if the cease and desist order has any merit, he said it did not. “We are working 100 percent within our federal rights.”
Mizikar said if the railroad moves the tank onto the site, they will take legal action.