Plans for Springfield biomass plant back before city councilors - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Plans for Springfield biomass plant back before city councilors

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

An ongoing dispute between the city of Springfield and Palmer Renewable Energy was back in front of the city council Tuesday night.

The company is looking to build a biomass wood burning plant in East Springfield.

Originally, the city said their permit to build was invalid, but the Massachusetts Land Court recently re-instated that permit.

Cameras were allowed inside Springfield city council chambers for a brief moment before Tuesday night's meeting on the matter was voted into executive session.

On the agenda: a potential appeal preventing Palmer Renewable Energy from building their $150 million facility in the East Springfield neighborhood.

It's a plan that has been in the works since 2008, but has hit several road blocks.

Initially, the Springfield Zoning Board of Appeals' ruled the company's building permit was invalid.

However, two weeks ago a Massachusetts Land Court granted the company their permit back and allowed them to move forward with the process.

Now the ball is back in the council's court.

"What the council is currently in the midst of discussing is whether or not we deem it advisable to file an appeal to that decision to the Massachusetts Appellate Court," said President of the Springfield City Council Michael Fenton. 

Fenton would not elaborate as to what was discussed behind closed doors, but says he will begin polling his fellow councilors to see if there is enough backing to continue the legal process with the appeal.

"We are going to make a decision based on the best interest of the city and based on what is the best legal course of action moving forward to further our case," Fenton said.  

In the meantime, Palmer Renewable Energy continues with their plans to build the 35-megawatt wood-to-energy plant on the grounds of Palmer Paving Co. off of Page Boulevard.

That has many residents apprehensive as to what the plant could do to the air quality.

"Asthma is at epidemic proportions the city. We need cleaner air and not dirtier air," said resident  Bill Gibson.

CBS 3 reached out to Palmer Renewable Energy but have not heard back.

The city council has until Sept. 15 to decide whether or not they will make their appeal.

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