On Springfield

City Council Takes On Incinerator Permit

On Monday, the City Council will take up two resolutions in response to the recent news that City Hall has issued a building permit for the controversial wood-burning power plant proposed for East Springfield.

City Building Commissioner Steven Desilets issued the permit earlier this week to Palmer Renewable Energy, the developers of the proposed $150 million plant, despite a May vote by the Council to revoke an earlier special land use permit granted for the project in 2008.

One of the two resolutions asserts that the plant, as an incinerator, requites a special permit. The second calls for state officials to enforce a rule that would prohibit the plant’s construction before it receives final air-quality approval from the state.

Two attorneys working with the grassroots Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield question the legality of the building permit. "The city’s issuance of a building permit for the PRE incinerator is contrary to the requirements of the City’s zoning rules. The facility lacks a necessary special permit,” said Patrick Markey, city solicitor under the Ryan administration and a former city councilor (he was one of just two councilors who voted against the 2008 permit) in a press release.

"The issuance of a building permit to PRE is directly at odds with the City Council’s revocation of PRE’s Special Permit,” add Sue Reid, director of Massachusetts’ Conservation Law Foundation. “In addition, PRE’s rush to secure an unlawful building permit is baffling: state law prohibits PRE from beginning any construction because it does not have a final air permit.”

STIS is urging concerned residents to contact their city councilors to voice their support of the resolutions and their opposition to the plant. “The people of Springfield spoke loudly and clearly that they do not want—and should not have to tolerate—any more pollution in our already overburdened city,” STIS’ Michaelann Bewsee said. “We commend the city councilors for acting on behalf of the people and support them in passing these resolutions."

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