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Judge lifts desist order against RR; Grafton & Upton plans for propane facility.

Byline: Craig S. Semon

GRAFTON -- The Worcester Superior Court has ruled in favor of the Grafton & Upton Railroad's motion to dissolve an injunction and declare a cease and desist/stop work order null and void.

The injunction has been a major stumbling block in the railroad's plans to build a propane transloading facility at its railyard in North Grafton.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for the railroad asked Judge David Ricciardone in Worcester Superior Court to dissolve a 2013 preliminary injunction upholding Grafton's cease-and-desist order against the railroad's plan.

The lawyer, John A. Mavricos, cited recent findings from the federal Surface Transportation Board that federal rulings pre-empt any state or local requirements concerning the propane facility.

"After hearing and further review of the parties' submissions, this motion is allowed. The injunction is dissolved. The cease and desist order here is declared null and void,'' said Judge Ricciardone's ruling, filed Friday.

In December 2012, Jon Delli Priscoli, the railroad's owner, told selectmen that four 80,000-gallon propane storage tanks would be delivered and installed for a proposed 320,000-gallon propane storage facility at 42 Westboro Road in North Grafton.

The town immediately filed suit in Worcester Superior Court seeking a preliminary injunction to enforce its cease-and-desist order halting the delivery of the storage tanks.

In June 2013, Superior Court Judge John S. McCann prohibited the railroad from delivering the tanks. He also ordered the railroad not to construct any part of the propane facility and said the railroad must comply with the terms of a cease-and-desist order issued by Grafton Building Inspector Robert S. Berger in 2012.

"The Court is persuaded that it is not in a position, in effect, to overrule the unequivocal decision of the STB (Surface Transportation Board) regarding federal preemption, even if the decision faces challenges,'' the ruling states.

Grafton & Upton Railroad spokesman Doug Pizzi said the railroad would still like to work with the Town of Grafton on the railroad's future plans.

"It's always been the railroad's position that we rather negotiate than litigate,'' he said. "We had to defend our interests and now we've won two decisions, one at the STB and one at the Superior Court. And we would still like to sit with the town and talk our way through this.''

Grafton Town Administrator Timothy P. McInerney did not return a call.

Contact Craig S. Semon at Follow him on Twitter @CraigSemon.

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Semon, Craig S.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 5, 2014
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