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Railroad wins board ruling; Neighbors are overruled in pellet facility dispute.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

UPTON -- The federal Surface Transportation Board has ruled in favor of the Grafton and Upton Railroad in a dispute with a group of local residents over a controversial wood pellet facility at the railroad's West Upton yard.

In a decision issued Thursday, the transportation board ruled that activities at the railroad's pellet facility and bulk transfer terminal station fall under federal pre-emption and are exempt from state and local zoning laws.

Citing what they said were noise, dust and glare problems related to the facility, several abutters petitioned the board seeking a declaratory order that local zoning laws and other regulations were not pre-empted with respect to the railroad's pellet-bagging operation.

The railroad maintained the federal doctrine of pre-emption applied and that the operation was exempt from local zoning regulations because the work done there constituted "transportation by rail carrier.''

The transportation board found in its 14-page ruling that federal pre-emption applies.

The board issued a similar ruling in September, when it found that federal pre-emption applied to the railroad's plan to build and run a propane transloading facility at its rail yard in North Grafton.

"We are pleased that the federal Surface Transportation Board, for the third time this year, has rendered a decision in favor of the railroad's right to engage in rail transportation and all activities related to rail transportation,'' said Grafton and Upton Railroad owner Jon Delli Priscoli.

"With these decisions behind us, two in Grafton and one in Upton, we can continue with our mission to bring much needed goods to market, including alternative sources of energy, in a safe, economical, environmentally-friendly manner,'' he said.

Contact Gary V. Murray at gmurray@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @GaryMurrayTG

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Murray, Gary V.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 7, 2014
Words:287
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