Grafton & Upton Railroad, Town Meet For Mediation

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Grafton and railroad met in a mediation session. Photo Credit: Richard Price file photo

GRAFTON, Mass. — Members from the town of Grafton and the Grafton & Upton Railroad met Friday at the request of the federal court to mediate their court case. However,a brief press release sent at 4:30 p.m. from the office of the town administrator for Grafton, indicated there was little if any progress made.

“On the final day of court proceedings for the railroad case, Federal District Judge Timothy HilIman recommended that the two parties meet outside of court in a mediation setting,” said the press release. “Today, to satisfy the Judge’s request, the town administrator and the chair of the board of selectmen met with John Delli Priscolli of the Grafton and Upton Railroad.”

Both sides argued their case for a week in federal court, debating if the railroad has the right to build a propane transfer station on Westborough Road on a lot that the town has zoned as residential.

In December, Grafton filed a cease-and-desist order on the railroad, which they hope will be extended by a court ruling.

The attorney for the railroad, John A. Mavricos, has argued that federal pre-emption applies under the Interstate Commerce Act which gives it broad powers that extend to the 320,000 gallon propane station.

Ginny S. Kremer of Bowman & Penski has argued on behalf of Grafton that the railroad has not been transparent in its dealings with the town and that claiming pre-emption does not make it so.

Federal pre-emption allows only railroads, when transportation is involved, to operate outside of state and local laws.

The final argument on both sides is scheduled for 9 a.m., Feb. 11, in U.S. Federal Court. Judge Hillman has not revealed when he will make his decision.

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Comments (6)

crowneagle:

I am following Grafton's David and Goliath story with interest. The railroads have successfully fought for pre-exemption laws for a long time. I hope that Grafton has deep pockets because this could get messy.

Here in Northbridge, there have been questions arising out of P&W Railroad and what they have done as far as dumping trap rock in the river to help prevent erosion to their tracks. If this trap rock is filling the channel, then flooding will increase in the village of Rockdale. The new bridge south of the village will help very little in preventing this.

Luther Manning:

IMHO Priscioli will get his way, he's a millionaire, and is a major campaign donor to Deval Patrick and Company. Besides, look what he did to the Edaville RR amusement park, pillaged and developed it and nobody objected..

Money talks in the end..

crossfade:

Forget it... Just add a toll booth to Westborough rd. and call it a day. Anything over 6000lb GVW pays $100.00 road use toll.. =-)

On a serious note, if you want to shut this guy down, get him on the transfer side of the business.. make it difficult for the trucks to get in and out of town. The town should profit from this is one way or another...

Ishmeal:

I'll admit that I didn't see mediation as part of the trial. I think Rdis right, the railroad is likely to prevail. Transloading has been a part of the business since the beginning of the form of transportation, a hundred years ago each town had a freight depot where goods were unloaded and stored, much like the proposed propane terminal.

From a practical standpoint, this would have been a good time to admit the shortcomings of the town's case and perhaps seek the railroad's assistance in improving the town roads and culverts rather than poking them in the eye with a sharp stick. They have the equipment on site to do much of the work.

Red Tempo:

Folks, let's tone down the chest thumbing rhetoric here. The fact of the matter is that the Town of Grafton is not likely to prevail here. It is what it is because our Congressmen and Senators voted to approve the Interstate Commerce Act. If we're going to be angry at anyone, it's our Congressional representatives. Not only are the facts against us, but we also need to recognize that we do not enforce our zoning regulations fairly and evenly. Tufts University routinely violates the Ground Water Overlay Protection district by storing sand and salt and trucks at a depot on Cornfield Lane and no one does anything. In my view our best hope for the safety of our community is to seek the railroad's cooperation with safety, security and hours of operation limits. If our TA didn't get that, he has let us down (again!). All the best, Red.

AD:

Agreed. We should not be "settling" this issue. That only aids the railroad. Give them an inch, they'll take 10 miles, as we've seen already.

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