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.