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Surface Transportation Board Denies Upton Petitioners Discovery

The Upton residents who filed a petition seeking a Declaratory Order from the Surface Transportation Board (STB) concerning the Grafton Upton Railroad's (GURR) pre-emptive status, recently suffered a setback regarding their case. The petitioners learned the STB will not reconsider its initial decision to deny the group discovery.

In August 2012, the petitioners who include Ray Smith, Joseph Hatch, Cheryl Hatch, Diana DelGrosso, Kathleen Kelley, Andrew Wiklund, and Richard Kosiba, filed a 35-page petition through Concord Attorney Mark Bobrowski. The petition is seeking a Declaratory Order from the STB to affirm whether or not the Grafton Upton Railroad's activities are pre-empted from local regulations. The STB is the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates railroads.

According to a document released on May 8, the STB ruled that the decision concerning the Declaratory Order will be based strictly on the documents already in hand. "There will be no discovery process," said GURR spokesperson Doug Pizzi in an email. "This means the documents the STB has in front of it now, the Terminal Transloading Agreement and the yard's Lease Agreement, are sufficient to allow the issues raised by the petitioners to be decided," said Pizzi.

The STB refused to allow a letter submitted by the Upton Planning Board concerning the case as it was filed too late. The STB also ruled that court documents concerning an ongoing case in Grafton regarding the construction of a propane station are not allowed to be submitted as evidence. "One has nothing to do with the other," said Pizzi.

In January, the GURR was slapped with an order by Grafton town officials to halt delivery of propane tanks as part of the railroad's plan to construct a propane transfer station in the town. The Grafton Board of Selectmen claim the transfer station violates zoning laws and because they maintain a second company is involved in the propane operations, the railroad does not have federal pre-emption.

GURR owner and CEO Jon Delli Priscoli said in a statement. "We are pleased that the Surface Transportation Board, in rejecting the petitioners' claim for discovery and the late filing from the Upton Planning Board, has seen fit to stay within the confines of the issues at hand," said Delli Priscoli. "We look forward to the STB issuing its final decision in this matter so that we can then place our full efforts and resources in continuing to create economic activity, including new jobs and tax revenue, for the communities that we serve."


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