Middlebury weighs in on natural gas pipeline plan

MIDDLEBURY — Members of the Middlebury selectboard last month signed a letter of support for Vermont Gas Systems’ proposal to extend its natural gas pipeline from Chittenden County to Middlebury and Vergennes.
The $72 million project, if approved by the Vermont Public Service Board and built out as planned by 2015, would save the approximately 2,100 eligible residential and business customers in Middlebury a combined total of $5 million per year compared to what they are currently paying for fuel oil, according to the company.
Local business leaders in particular are bullish on the Vermont Gas project, which would primarily follow the Vermont Electric Power Co. right of way. But opponents of the project have voiced concerns that the pipeline would present safety and environmental concerns, as well as forestall society’s transition to green energy options. More than 100 Monkton citizens have signed a petition opposing the project for the disruption it would cause to local roads and residential properties during construction.
“The Middlebury Planning Commission intends to work constructively with you on details of the project plans as these are developed,” reads a portion of the selectboard’s letter to Vermont Gas. “In a separate letter it has described the unique interest that the town of Middlebury has in the project, stated its concerns, and offered some initial recommendations. The Middlebury selectboard has this interest, shares these concerns, and endorses the planning commission’s recommendations. Public safety is another important concern; accordingly it is the selectboard’s expectation that to insure optimum public safety Vermont Gas will employ state of the art measures in planning and constructing the pipeline.”
In other recent activity, the Middlebury selectboard drafted a memorandum of understanding with the Battell Park trustees to manage a 38.3-acre parcel of land on Chipman Hill that the town is poised to purchase from Cooperative Insurance Companies for $150,000.
That land, to be conserved, is located adjacent to the already protected Chipman Hill Park. The 38.3-acre parcel was once considered for a major subdivision. The funds to purchase the property are being drawn from the town’s conservation fund.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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