| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – The biomass plant proposed by Palmer Renewable Energy (PRE) has one less roadblock to its construction.
The City Council received word on Nov. 9 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denial further appellate review of the matter, which ended the effort led by the City Council to stop the controversial plant.
The facility would be located off of Page Boulevard and would generate electricity by burning wood chips. Opponents have expressed concerns about the increase in air pollution the plant would possibly contribute.
City Council President Michael Fenton, who has been a staunch opponent of the facility, said, “We are very, very disappointed with the results but we understand this marks the conclusion of this court case. Unfortunately, the City Council has no further no land use remedies at its disposal. Whether there are other siting and health related challenges that could be presented remains to be seen.”
He emphasized from a legal perspective, “There are no other appeals that can be taken.”
Attorney Thomas Mackie, who is representing PRE issued the following statement: “This ruling closes an important chapter in our effort to bring a $150 million green energy project to the city of Springfield. The SJC’s decision clearly and emphatically reaffirms that Palmer Renewable Energy has complied with every legal requirement and met every environmental standard needed to move forward. We are gratified by the Court’s decision and we look forward to bringing this project to fruition.”
Fenton noted the actions taken by the City Council have involved four courts, the Zoning Board of Appeals and a revocation hearing over the last six years.
Michaelann Bewsee of Arise for Social Justice, one of the groups that has opposed the biomass facility told Reminder Publications, “As far as I know those end of the traditional legal options.”
She added the Public Health Council in Springfield could construct a site assignment hearing concerning whether or not the location of the plant is acceptable.
Bewsee said the council is planning to meet on Nov. 18. Out of that meeting could come solutions to the impact caused by the truck traffic to the plant and other mitigation plans.
“We staking our bets on Public Health Council process,” she said.
She noted the facility has met Department of Environmental Protection guidelines and, but the Public Health Council doesn’t have to follow those standards.
“It’s not over yet,” she said.