The chairman of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection has ruled that an appeal of a planned Amtrak train layover facility in Brunswick can proceed.

Members of the citizens group Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition filed the appeal on July 16, arguing that the Department of Environmental Protection committed numerous procedural and technical errors when it granted a stormwater management permit to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority in June. The coalition requested that the board review and rescind the final permit the rail authority needed to build the $12.7 million train holding and service facility.

TrainRiders/Northeast, a nonprofit that promotes the Amtrak Downeaster operated by the rail authority, had asked the BEP to dismiss the appeal on procedural grounds – that the coalition’s appeal was not signed by an attorney. On Tuesday, BEP Chairman James Parker denied TrainRiders/Northeast’s request.

“The Board generally seeks to minimize hurdles to access to its proceedings and encourages public participation,” Parker wrote to TrainRiders/Northeast. “It has been the Board’s longstanding practice to allow persons who are not attorneys, such as a spokesperson for a citizen group or a consultant acting as an agent for an applicant, to appear on behalf of parties in appeal proceedings before the Board.”

Parker’s decision means the BEP – a seven-member board that considers appeals – will likely hear oral arguments on the case later this fall. The board could also decide to grant a public hearing on the issue.

The rail authority has been working for roughly three years toward constructing the layover facility in a rail yard stretching from Church Road to Stanwood Street. The authority has said the facility would allow for more frequent and efficient service because trains could be stored and serviced overnight in Brunswick rather than having to return each night to Portland.

But some would-be neighbors have fought the authority at every turn, arguing that the 655-foot-long building is inappropriate for a residential area because it would lead to increased pollution, noise from idling trains and greater safety threats. In its 21-page appeal, the neighborhood coalition contends that the DEP did not follow proper procedures, committed numerous errors when reaching its conclusions and granted a permit that does not adequately protect the air, groundwater sources and local waterways.

Bob Morrison, chairman of the neighborhood coalition, said members “felt very confident going in.”

“We hope that this is a good sign, and we are confident that the board of the Department of Environmental Protection is giving this the time and attention it demands because it is so important to our neighborhood,” Morrison said Wednesday.

TrainRiders/Northeast chairman Wayne Davis said he was disappointed by Parker’s ruling but added, “We’ll just soldier on.”

The rail authority has the option of beginning work on the layover facility while the appeal is pending. Patricia Quinn, the authority’s executive director, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in July, the neighborhood group had written to DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho requesting that she stay or freeze the rail authority’s stormwater management permit while the group appeals the decision. Aho declined that request, however, on Aug. 11 and said that many of the coalition’s arguments for suspending the permit were considered during the department’s review of the permit application.

“A stay pending the outcome of both an administrative appeal and potential subsequent judicial appeals could last a year or longer,” Aho wrote. “While there may not be evidence in the record relating to the extent of the harm from such a delay in construction, it can be reasonably inferred that a legal hold on the initiation of construction in this already lengthy licensing process would result in some detriment to the licensee and the general public.”