Upton Residents Seeking Help With Railroad Legal Fees

  • Comments (13)
Wood pellet hoppers on the Grafton Upton Railroad property as seen from Depot Street in Upton. Photo Credit: Deborah Gauthier

UPTON, Mass. – Concerned Citizens for Upton, invigorated by a decision of the Surface Transportation Board that their objections to a wood pellet facility and chemical storage on Grafton & Upton Railroad property deserves a hearing, is looking for help to pay legal fees.

Photo Album Grafton Upton Railroad

It's also asking residents to contact Congressman James McGovern so he knows the extent of its concerns.

The board issued a “declaratory order” two weeks ago to hear the case brought by seven Upton residents who believe the bagging, storing, and trans-loading being conducted by the railroad at its 25 Maple Ave. location is not transportation by a rail carrier as defined by the Interstate Commerce Act.

If they succeed, Upton would be able to regulate the operation under local zoning bylaws.

The railroad, owned by Jon Delli Priscoli, said the business falls under the federal railroad pre-emption.

In an email to residents who asked to be kept informed, the group said the railroad had until Jan. 31 to produce public versions of the trans-loading agreement and until Feb. 25 to file a reply to contradict any of the information presented by the Upton residents.

Residents have until March 11 to respond,’ the email notes.

“Concerned Citizens now need to prepare for the March 11 deadline, which means we need a second round of donations. Anything will be helpful, any amount of all,’’ the email says.

Supporters are asked to spread the word and ask friends and neighbors to donate as well.

Donations should be sent to Mark Bobrowski, 9 Damon Mill Square #4A4, Concord, MA 01741, who is doing much of the work pro-bono, the email notes, but must be accompanied by a form authorizing Bobrowski to accept the donation. 

Information on how to make donations also is on the group's blog.site 

The railroad also is facing opposition from Grafton town officials, who have asked a U.S. Federal Court judge to determine whether Delli Priscoli's plans to construct a propane transfer terminal there falls under federal pre-emption rights.

Final arguments in that case are scheduled for Feb. 11.

  • 13
    Comments

Comments (13)

luvupton:

I don't think I am wasting my time putting my opinions here for everyone to read. The problem continues to be unregulated industrial development in the middle of Upton (and now Grafton, too) which the RR claims is preempted by federal law. That is the issue. Everything else borders on smoke screen including our references to movies and the motives of the abutters.
There is also a Washington DC attorney, Fritz Kahn who is a specialist in railroad law, working on the case. He can be looked up on the internet. .http://www.hgexperts.com/expert-witness.asp?id=37428
In order to be better informed about what is really going on I suggest you read the document filed with the STB. It clarifies all the issues now at stake in Grafton and in Upton.
http://www.stb.dot.gov/filings/all.nsf/ba7f93537688b8e5852573210004b318/1198db994d8eec0285257b110078a96f?OpenDocument

Baddog123:

LOL. Well I tried to end this on a freindly note but you don't seem to want to let it go. You've certainly cleared up the FACTS regarding The Magnificent Seven. Thanks! You must work from home.
Given the choice, I thought Sal Mineo was a better second choice for you. But the movie I was refereing to was The Magnificent Seven save Christmas, starring "Yule" Brenner". Who cares about Eli Wallach and my eighth grade education does not permit me to understand what profound message your trying to convey with your misquotes. It's always those who don't have the courage to run for public office who attack those who do.
Fact:You stated that "only abutters have standing to ask the STF for a ruling". WRONG
Fact: Your group has been attacking the G & U since shortly after it began operation. This makes it very difficult for the rest of us to give any credence to their accusations be they warrented or not.
Conjecture: I'm sure that anyone representing the CCU would certainly want them to be aware of how "complicated" the issue is when there now seems to be a fee attached to what was initially Pro bono representation.
Fact. Pro bono - "Professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as a public service". The professional in this case offered to represent the CCU Pro bono. What happened?? Maybe his mouth acted without knowing how technically complicated the case would be.
Fact: There should be no need to seek funding from the citizens for a Pro bono case.
Fact. You certainly have a lot of technical knowledge of the law. Why are you wasting your time debating an old farmer like me.

grommit:

Wow! Upton commenters use references to one of the greatest movies of all time.
"The guns... the gun belts, you take off and put here now."
"Only the farmers have won"
Grafton had two movies: "Ah Wilderness" (which left behind that Town Common gazebo) and "Orchard House" (filmed at the cool house on North Street). But, Upton talks about "The Magnificent Seven". Geez...I may have to move to Upton.

luvupton:

In such exalted discourse it is important to be accurate and to stay with the facts. Otherwise confusion and disinformation continue to be the order of the day. There has been too much of that already in this case.
First the lead actor in "The Magnificent Seven" is Yul Brynner, not Yule Brenner. To the best of my knowledge Sal Mineo was not in that movie, but Eli Walach was, as Sotero the nasty bandit-chief. We can almost hear him saying to the Mexican villages, not "sheep are meant to be sheared", but "I will bury any town that opposes me." (The misquotes are deliberate.)
Second, it is true that anyone can call the STB and complain about a RR. But it is more complicated than that to have a petition for a declaratory order accepted by the STB and given a docket number (FD 35652). The issue is technical, namely that "certain industrial operations do not constitute transportation by rail carrier." That is the ruling sought and only certain people have standing to bring such a petition through legal counsel to the STB. Get the facts straight.

Baddog123:

REALLY! Which seven are you "luvupton", Yule Brenner or Sal Mineo :-) ?
I respect the Upton Boards for adamantly refusing to spend the taxpayers money on something they did not believe was prudent. Especially with representation not of their choosing. I also respect the Grafton boards for persuing their suit against the G & U. If those three huge tanks were to be in placed in Upton I would want to be sure that they met any and all safety requirements also. Big difference between the two scenarios and their history.
The claim that only abutters have standing to seek a judgement is not true.
The STB allows " anyone with a problem with a railroad, subject to the STB's jurisdiction, to reach them by calling (1-866-254-1792).
I too love Upton, been here a long time. I also respect the many Boards that routinely make the hard decisions for the good of the town. Thanks Guys/Gals,
It has been a pleasure debating this issue with you "luvupton", and I do respect your opposing veiws, but I think the time has come to allow others to take up their gauntlets and express their opinions. You and I are starting to repeat ourselves.

Baddog123:

REALLY! Which seven are you "luvupton", Yule Brenner or Sal Mineo :-) ?
I respect the Upton Boards for adamantly refusing to spend the taxpayers money on something they did not believe was prudent. Especially with representation not of their choosing. I also respect the Grafton boards for persuing their suit against the G & U. If those three huge tanks were to be in placed in Upton I would want to be sure that they met any and all safety requirements also. Big difference between the two scenarios and their history.
The claim that only abutters have standing to seek a judgement is not true.
The STB allows " anyone with a problem with a railroad, subject to the STB's jurisdiction, to reach them by calling (1-866-254-1792).
I too love Upton, been here a long time. I also respect the many Boards that routinely make the hard decisions for the good of the town. Thanks Guys/Gals,
It has been a pleasure debating this issue with you "luvupton", and I do respect your opposing veiws, but I think the time has come to allow others to take up their gauntlets and express their opinions. You and I are starting to repeat ourselves.

luvupton:

If citizens do not agree with their local government, it is entirely fitting that they have recourse to higher authority. Fortunately we are still a nation of laws. There is absolutely no guarantee that the BOS, the BOH or the Zoning Board represent final wisdom or any wisdom at all in the matter. In fact a lot of evidence indicates that they are wrong. The STB did not give any answers to those boards. The whole point of this exercise is that those boards have adamantly refused to ask the STB for a ruling.
Note that the BOS in Grafton with respect to the propane tanks has taken the opposite approach. The town government did not roll over to the claim of preemption just because someone said it, but decided to check it out.
That there are SEVEN Upton residents should not surprise anyone. Only abutters have standing with the federal government to ask for such an judgement. The extent of concern and worry in Upton about unregulated industrial development in the middle of town is considerably greater than that. Refering to the "magnificent seven" is appropriate. There are striking.parallels between that movie and the present situation.

Baddog123:

And the article by Ms. Gauthier states, " the case brought by SEVEN Upton residents". The "complaints" were not brought to the Surface Transportation Board by the Upton BOS, the BOH or the Zoning Board because they were satisfied with the answers given them by the STB.
I wonder if these magnificent seven may have been abutters to the RR property?
If indeed the Dana Corp. facility cannot be defined under preemption then it is certainly fitting that they be regulated by theTown as any other manufacturer would be. However, regardless of how the STB rules, I'm sure that we will hear more from the CCU regarding the G & U.

luvupton:

It does get confusing when too many issues are on the table at once. Stay for a moment with the picture and article by Deborah Gauthier above. The pictured silos and adjacent building which are processing wood pellets for the Dana Corporation and its subsidiaries were built without reference to the town planning commission, building permits, or any control by the town of Upton. It is very possible that the Dana facility is in violation of town building regulations. They have done this because they claim they are part of the RR preemption and thus not subject to local ordinances. The present action is a request to the STB to rule on that claim. The STB has not yet made any judgment on the matter but the fact that they have accepted the case after visiting Upton shows that they think it has merit.
As far as asking for financial help, why not? No one is forced to contribute. It is worth noting that there have already been many contributions from many citizens who are worried about unregulated industrial development in the middle of town. Keep the issues straight. If there is any object of this action it is with reference to Dana Corporation claiming preemption, not the RR. They are not the same entity.

Baddog123:

There is no misunderstanding or confusion regarding the so-called "Concerned Citizens of Upton". They have been relentless in their efforts to thwart any and all efforts by The G & U Railroad owners to bring their products to their backyards. No one wishes to deny their right to have the Surface Transportation Board look at their complaints and make a ruling on the facts. If memory serves me, a representative of that board came to Upton, twice, to address the issues of pr-emption brought by the CCU and ruled no foul.
The Upton BOS backed away because they saw no reason to throw good money after bad in re-hashing this argument further. As to the CCU, they were first concerned about the poles. Then they were concered about the tank cars, intimating the eventual, possible, destruction of schools and water sheds. Then it was the trains blowing their whistles too long or too loud. They wanted a "Quiet Zone", really. Then there was the problem with the engines running in the rail yard. Now, the most unbeleivable of all, their asking for help from the rest of the citizens of Upton to finance what has become their own personel Hatfields and McCoy's type fued. Just say no to helping the CCU finance their private war with Mr. Delli Priscoli. To say that "the request for a ruling is not in any way to object to the railroad per se" is ludicrous. Just examine the history.
It is certainly legitimate for the CCU to persue a ruling, just let them do it with their own money.

luvupton:

Misunderstandings and confusion abound in this discussion. Those citizens of Upton who have standing in the case have asked the Surface Transportation Board of the federal government for a ruling whether the Dana Corporation’s industrial development is preempted and therefore outside town or state regulation. It is precisely the same action that was taken by the town of Grafton which asserts that a claim by the RR of preemption for gas storage tanks does not make it so. It is a matter for the STB to decide since that is precisely what that federal agency does, not the town, not the railroad, not the citizens, disgruntled or otherwise. The request for a ruling is not in any way to object to the railroad per se but to inquire about the industrial development that is proceeding outside any local zoning, building or health regulations. That lack of local or state control has the potential of allowing the growth of a hazardous and dangerous environment for the whole town. It is entirely legitimate for the railroad and allied industries to claim preemption. But it is equally legitimate to ask the appropriate government agency to rule on those claims.

PM:

Perhaps the "Concerned Citizens of Upton" would care to reimburse the owner of the G&U Railroad for taking care of the old landfill that the town had neglected to properly cap for many years. The railroad has brought jobs to the local economy and will continue to do so. The owner of the railroad has been nothing but cooperative and helpful to the town of Upton. Just a bunch of troublemakers who are upset because they bought homes that were close to an active (though not operating at the time) railroad.

Baddog123:

First let's make one thing clear. The "Concerned Citizens of Upton" are not concerned for the town of Upton. They are concerned with what is happening in their back yard. If these same folks lived on East St. they would not have a concern in the world about what the G & U Railroad is doing. They began their attack on the railroad as soon as the first train whistle blew and awakened them from their carefree slumber. OK, you want to go after Mr.Delli Priscoli, go ahead, but please, don't ask the rest of the town to finance what has become a personal matter between the "Concerned Abutting Property Owners" and the Grafton Upton Railroad.

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