Department of Environmental Protection hearings officer Timothy Jones allowed the town’s motion to dismiss both appeals of the Wilmington High School project, ending the latest effort by residents to stop construction of the new school.
Jones made the ruling in a document sent to the involved parties dated Thursday, October 4.
“The Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Decision are both allowed,” said Jones. “All pending deadlines are vacated and the adjudicatory hearing is cancelled. By October 12, 2012, I will issue a recommended final decision that explains in detail the basis for this ruling and order.”
Board of Selectmen chairman Michael Newhouse said in a press release that Town Manager Jeff Hull and Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton will immediately review the town’s next steps with their legal counsel and design team before notifying the School Committee, High School Building Committee and Board of Selectmen as to where the town will go from here.
Though Newhouse said the decision is an important one for the town, he also added it did not come as any surprise.
“We obviously are pleased with the decision, and frankly, it is what we expected,” said Newhouse. “The Town has believed from the outset that these two appeals are absolutely without merit. Our legal counsel, technical advisers and town officials have been very diligent throughout the course of these appeals.”
Neither Kevin MacDonald nor Gerry O’Reilly, the spokesmen for the two appeals, were immediately available for comment when contacted by Wilmington Patch.
George Lingenfelter, one of the appealing residents, questioned the decision and added that he remains interested in finding a way to make sure the town cleans the oil in the soil beneath the school property.
“I don’t believe the hearings officer reviewed the information from an unbiased standpoint,” said Lingenfelter, who declined further comment.
Recently retired Town Manager Michael Caira said in the town’s press release that today’s decision is a critical one for the town.
“This certainly is an important step toward realizing our goal,” said Caira. “We are hopeful that the overwhelming will of the residents is not subjected to further legal maneuvering and delays. In the end, it is the students and taxpayers who would suffer the most.”
It is not immediately clear when town and school officials would begin moving forward with school construction following the dismissal of the appeals.
In the press release, Benton said that Thursday is a day many residents of Wilmington have been waiting for.
“We have waited many months for this decision,” said Benton. “And I couldn’t be more pleased.”