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Hopkinton residents voice objections to transfer station application

The Hopkinton Board of Selectmen heard testimony last night from several residents opposed to changing the town’s waste-facility permit to allow the town to consider opening the transfer station it shares with Webster to nonresidents.

The towns have an application before the state to remove a section from the facility’s operating permit that restricts goods from outside of the two towns. Changing the permit would not immediately allow outside goods to come in because the facility also is governed by a joint town ordinance, which supersedes the permit. However, it would allow the towns’ select boards to eventually open the facility to nonresidents by changing the ordinance. Any ordinance decision would require a public hearing, but would not go before voters.

Still, several residents said they thought the board should withdraw the permit.

“This really is a major, major change to this facility,” said John Madden, who lives near the station. “It turns it into a commercial facility. It’s not just a modification. It’s a huge change.”

Madden said the decision to change the permit should have been made by voters in the first place.

“If it comes to a town meeting, it may be something that the town says, ‘Hey, you know what, we should do it,’ ” he said. “But I think it really should start there.”

Gary Rondeau, who also lives near the facility, presented the board with a petition of 146 signatures to withdraw the application.

“There are too many people who didn’t know anything about this,” he said.

“Folks,” he added, turning to the audience, “if this goes through, the selectmen get to decide. No town meeting. The fox is in the hen house at that point.”

But O’Brien suggested the concerns were premature.

“This doesn’t allow us to change anything,” he said. “I don’t want people thinking that if the permit changes, it’s the Hopkinton Wild West Show.”

O’Brien said he and the board plan to talk more about the transfer changes during the next couple of meetings.

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