GRAFTON, Mass. — The town of Grafton will begin arguing its case in federal court against the Grafton & Upton Railroad’s claim to pre-emption rights on Monday, Jan. 14.
Six days have been blocked off for the trial, which is set to begin 9 a.m. at U.S. District Court in Worcester, the Grafton Board of Selectmen said.
Grafton issued a cease-and-desist order in December against the railroad and its owner, Jon Delli Priscoli, after he announced during a selectmen meeting that the first of four 120-foot propane tanks was set to be delivered the next day. The town argued that federal pre-emption, which would bypass state and local laws, has not been proven.
Setting up a propane transfer station is part of the railroad business, meaning construction is under federal oversight, Delli Priscoli said. He also said he was following all federal safety regulations and would not allow any propane to be delivered until the site passed fire safety and environmental inspections, both nationally and locally.
Since the town issued its cease-and-desist order, which was upheld by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman until the trial, the railroad has set up a temporary fence along the entrance to its propane station on Westborough Road. It also parked a 400-foot stretch of rail and passenger cars that run parallel to North Main Street, making it difficult for the town to monitor whether the railroad is complying with the court order.
But Town Administrator Timothy McInerney was not deterred. “We commissioned a 65-foot bucket truck to take some photographs,” he said at a Tuesday night meeting, giving the town a bird’s eye view from the road.