Saturday, October 22, 2011

Biomass update - thanks, City Council!

Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield's Jesse Lederman at the rally
Yup, it's true: in spite of Springfield City Council's vote earlier this year to revoke the Special Permit for Palmer Renewable Energy's biomass plant, PRE is attempting an end run around the city council and filing for a building permit to begin construction.

On top of the city council's vote,  we're appealing the  Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection's air permit, so that permit is far from decided.  But apparently PRE has the support of the Sarno Administration on its side, and their confidence appears to be high.

Now, you might think that because Palmer renewable Energy is now suing the Springfield City Councilors that they would be feeling more wary.  But no, they're hanging tough!  Below is a copy of a letter that eight councilors wrote to Building Commissioner Steve Desilets.  Hope our rally on Monday night helped show the councilors who voted against PRE that we've got their back. 

In case you missed it, at the bottom of this post is a September report on our air quality.

 Dear Commissioner Desilets:

          It has come to our attention that Palmer Renewable Energy (hereinafter “PRE”) has filed with your office for a building permit. We further understand that this permit seeks “as-of-right” permission to build a smoke stack necessary for their proposed “biomass” facility.

            Earlier this year, we revoked PRE’s Special Permit for their proposed “biomass” facility. Said revocation was predicated on findings of fact that we made regarding the facility and the changes that were made to plans approved in 2008. This action was taken with the understanding that PRE would be unable to build their facility without a new Special Permit. Such is our interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance.

            M.G.L. ch. 40A, § 7 states that “[the] building commissioner . . .  shall be charged with the enforcement of the zoning ordinance or by-law and shall withhold a permit for the construction, alteration or moving of any building or structure if the building or structure as constructed, altered or moved would be in violation of any zoning ordinance or by-law; and no permit or license shall be granted for a new use of a building.”  As such, we believe it is your obligation to deny this permit.

As the legislative body for the City of Springfield, we respectfully request that you to deny this permit and all future building permits for this site which would circumvent our Zoning Ordinance. Failure to deny said permits will bring unnecessary burden upon the city and its taxpayers.

Please accept this letter as our request for enforcement prescribed in M.G.L. ch. 40A, § 7. The statute reads, “if the officer or board charged with enforcement of zoning ordinances or by-laws is requested in writing to enforce such ordinances or by-laws against any person allegedly in violation of the same and such officer or board declines to act, he shall notify, in writing, the party requesting such enforcement of any action or refusal to act, and the reasons therefor, within fourteen days of receipt of such request.”

In accordance with this statute, please inform us of your decision by November 4, 2011. Once we are in receipt of your response, we will consider our rights for appeal pursuant to M.G.L. ch. 40A, §§ 8, 15, 17.


Jose F. Tosado             John A. Lysak              Timothy C. Allen
Melvin A. Edwards       Michael A. Fenton        Amaad I. Rivera
Zaida Luna                   E Henry Twiggs

cc: Mayor Domenic Sarno
cc: City Solicitor Ed Pikula

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