GRAFTON, Mass.— The delivery of four 120 foot propane tanks into Grafton has been delayed by order of the U.S. District Court, with a hearing scheduled for Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m..
Worcester Superior Court had granted a temporary restraining order, then handed the case to the federal courts per the request of John A. Mauricos, attorney for the railroad. A federal judge will decide the fate of the giant tanks.
This development came Thursday afternoon in a federal courthouse when the Town of Grafton issued a cease and desist order to the Grafton & Upton Railroad to halt the construction of a propane storage facility at the North Grafton depot, an order which was ignored, the town said.
The mammoth tanks were scheduled to be delivered this week and next.
"We are in litigation with the town and have no further comment," Jon Delli Priscoli, the owner of the Grafton & Upton Railroad said Thursday morning.
The town was caught by surprise during Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting when Delli Priscoli announced the first of four propane tanks, currently sitting in Fall River, would be delivered on Wednesday afternoon.
At 11:33 a.m. Wednesday, the town issued a cease-and-desist order of final delivery of the tank to the Westborough Road site, saying that federal preemption of railroad business has not been proven.
Delli Priscoli claimed enough documentation and meetings have been held to determine the preemption status. “We are comfortable with our position and are proceeding as planned,” he said.
According to court documents, Assistant Town Administrator Kevin Mizikar said that Delli Priscoli went to the the Municipal Center after being served, walked into his office and said the town “started a nuclear war, that he intends to win, that all bets were off, and that he intends on burying towns that were not working with him.”
The suit filed in court by the town said that the Grafton & Upton Railroad did not file any construction permits with any departments at the Municipal Center, that the lots where Delli Priscoli is building are zoned by the town as residential, and that the property is located in the water supply protection overlay district and is in a residentially zoned area with an elementary school,homes, and parks.
In a press release on Friday morning, the town said they have asked the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency that oversees regulatory issues with railroads, to address whether the Grafton & Upton Railroad project is preempted from local and state laws.
Delli Priscoli appears unfazed by the recent development. On Friday morning, a reporter for the Grafton Daily Voice witnessed construction continuing at the Westborough Road site where the tanks are intended to rest.