Foes of Westford asphalt plant aren’t giving up

Signs in Westford protesting the proposed plant.
Signs in Westford protesting the proposed plant.handout

The town of Chelmsford and a group of abutters have filed separate appeals in Middlesex Superior Court seeking to block Newport Materials LLC from building an asphalt plant in Westford.

The group of eight abutters includes both Chelmsford and Westford residents. The 115-acre site of the proposed plant, at 540 Groton Road, straddles the town line. The plant would be built on the Westford portion of the site.

Chelmsford officials filed the town’s appeal Dec. 2; the abutters’ appeal was filed Dec. 5, the day the appeal period closed.

Westford had been in litigation with Newport Materials for more than six years. The matter was pending in Land Court when, on Oct. 4, Westford officials announced they had reached an agreement with Newport Materials owner Richard A. DeFelice that would permit the plant if the company met 14 pages of conditions.


Under the agreement, the town of Westford would receive about $8.5 million in concessions over 20 years. The settlement angered residents of both Chelmsford and Westford and sparked two protests. More than 1,800 signed an online petition against the settlement agreement.

Facing intense public pressure, the town of Westford on Nov. 3 filed a motion to vacate the agreement, arguing that the judge had “unilaterally altered the terms of the agreement,” hindering the town’s ability to enforce the conditions negotiated. Land Court Judge Alexander H. Sands denied that motion and ordered the town to issue the special permit for the project by Nov. 14.

In compliance with the court’s order, Westford issued the special permit on the deadline day. That same day, opponents obtained a temporary restraining order in an attempt to stop the town from granting the special permit to Newport Materials.

But on Nov. 29, Superior Court Judge John T. Lu denied the injunction and a request for the release of minutes detailing closed-door discussions between Westford officials and Newport Materials relevant to the settlement.


In its appeal, Chelmsford asks the court to: Rule the settlement agreement between Westford and Newport Materials invalid because it was not signed by a super-majority of the Westford Board of Selectmen; rule the agreement invalid because the proposed plant does not qualify as “light manufacturing” under Westford’s bylaws; and declare that the provisions of the agreement do not relieve Newport Materials from the obligation to obtain a variance for the asphalt plant as a principal use on the property.

In their appeal, the abutters — Alan Nakashian-Holsberg and James Coveno, both of Westford; and Andrea Gauntlett, John Pecora, Laurence Seeney, Judith Consentino, Marielaina Lorrey, and Michael Greeley, all of North Chelmsford — argue that the decision by Westford officials to issue the special permit “exceeded their respective authority and was arbitrary and capricious and legally untenable.”

They are asking the court to nullify Westford’s decision to issue the special permit or remand the matter to the Planning Board with instructions that the board deny the special permit or “grant other appropriate relief.”

Brenda J. Buote may be reached at brenda.buote@gmail.com .