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BOSTON-The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority’s controversial sale of its 91-acre parcel in Allston has hit a major snag in the form of a request to the state’s environmental secretary to review the deal. The request effectively prevents the deal from moving forward until the secretary decides whether the review is required.

“We received a request for an environmental review,” Katy Cahill, spokesperson for the state’s environmental office, tells GlobeSt.com. “We need to look at the ramifications” of this deal. She points out that Massachusetts Environmental Protection Authority regulations are designed to preserve working ports. “We need to see if this working port is jeopardized through the potential elimination of the rail link.”

The request came from ten people Cahill calls “individual citizens” but are all employees of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a state agency. Calls to the MAPC were not returned by deadline. Cahill says that the environmental office notified the Turnpike Authority of the request and has 20 days from the notification to decide if the project proponents need the reviews. She emphasizes that in that time, the Turnpike Authority cannot close the deal.

Harvard University bid $75 million for the property in Allston, and, as the only bidder for the full 91-acre property, it looked like the university had the deal sewn up. But, immediately after it became public, a number of city and state officials objected to the speed at which the Turnpike Authority was disposing of the property.

At issue is the fact the property is located near a crucial CSX rail yard and opponents to the sale are concerned that any development will adversely impact the rail yard. City Mayor Thomas M. Menino has called upon the Turnpike Authority to examine the issue more thoroughly before moving ahead with the deal. For its part Harvard has told GlobeSt.com that it does not plan to focus development in this location in the near future.

The Turnpike Authority did not return calls from GlobeSt.com before deadline.

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