Waiting Begins For Grafton & Upton Railroad Verdict

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A Grafton & Upton Railroad train passes through the center of Grafton.
A Grafton & Upton Railroad train passes through the center of Grafton. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lord Paluzzi

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The lawyer for the town of Grafton in her closing arguments Monday in U.S. District Court accused the Grafton & Upton Railroad of trying to sell its federal pre-emption rights to attract business.

The town filed suit in an attempt to stop construction of a 320,000-gallon propane transfer terminal on the railroad's North Grafton property, arguing the facility does not fall under pre-emption because it will be run by Spicer Gas under a 20-year contract.

Construction of the terminal was halted in December after the town sought a cease-and-desist order to prevent the delivery of four 120-foot 80,000 gallon propane tanks.

"The only thing the railroad is bringing to the table is its federal cloak of pre-emption," said Ginny S. Kremer, of  Bowman & Penski, Grafton's attorney.  The railroad has used the pre-emption as a selling point to businesses looking to relocate along its 16-mile stretch, she said.

The Grafton & Upton Railroad acquired property and has spent $1.8 million to develop it, said John A. Mavricos of Christopher, Hays, Wojcik and Mavricos, attorney for railroad owner Jon Delli Priscoli.

"The railroad has made a considerable investment in this facility," Mavricos said. "We continue to run and control this facility."

Judge Timothy S. Hillman said he would take the matter "under advisement" and issue a ruling at a later date. Kremer told the Grafton Board of Selectmen last week that she expected the ruling could take weeks or even months.

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You are so right. The way around him is being found in Washington DC. with the petitions before the Surface Transprotation Board. There is every expectation that the propane tanks in Grafton and the pellet plant, etc. in Upton will be ruled not preempted under the RR. When that happens, those industries will be subject to local and state laws like zoning, building permits, etc. and they will have to behave like everyone else and not beyond the law.

Doubt Priscoli is willing to wait several months, considering the money invested by him and the other company......A way around this will be found..

LM87