Middlebury to discuss pipeline Phase II on April 29

MIDDLEBURY — In addition to learning about Middlebury College’s intention to turn over land behind Ilsley Library to the town for development, the Middlebury selectboard at their meeting on Tuesday also discussed a number of other issues — most notably a proposed natural gas pipeline.
The board agreed to hold a special selectboard meeting on Tuesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. to discuss — and receive public feedback on — the proposed Phase II of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project. Phase II calls for a natural gas pipeline to be extended from Middlebury to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y. The project, pitched by Vermont Gas Systems, has drawn considerable opposition from some affected landowners, who are raising concerns about how the pipeline might affect their property, safety and environment.
The town of Cornwall has taken a particularly unified stand against the proposal, which is currently under review by the Vermont Public Service Board. The PSB wants to hear from Middlebury as one of the affected communities, and to that end, the selectboard called the April 29 hearing, which is likely to include a presentation from Vermont Gas.
In other activity, the selectboard:
•Received encouragement from local resident Tom Halnon to apply for a state grant to set up a 50-kilowatt wind turbine system at one of two promising locations in the community. He identified one of those spots as being near the former Polymers Inc. plant off Route 116, and the other as being near the town’s wastewater treatment plant off Industrial Avenue. Halnon said Middlebury can apply for a grant of up to $125,000 through the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) to help underwrite a project he estimated at around $220,000. Halnon is involved in the wind turbine business as part of Vermont Green Energy Systems.
If it secures a CEDF grant, Halnon said the town could contract with an outside company for a 20-year lease for the wind turbine, an asset he added the town would own at the end of that term. The immediate financial return for the town, according to Halnon, could be an annual $3,000 to $4,000 reduction in its municipal electric bill.
The application deadline to CEDF is May 9. Middlebury’s energy committee will discuss Halnon’s proposal at one of its upcoming meetings. Selectboard member Laura Asermily, a member of that committee, noted the town has additional green energy projects on the drawing board — including a potential solar panel plan at the recreation park.
•Unanimously agreed to expand the Middlebury Planning Commission from its current five members and one alternate, to seven members and one alternate. Commission Chairwoman Nancy Malcolm asked for the expansion in light of increasing subcommittee work members are taking on related to long range planning, as well as other responsibilities.
•Authorized several liquor license renewals for local businesses, but declined one requested renewal for the Village Depot (which includes the Dunkin Donuts)  at 16 Court St. That denial was based on what Police Chief Tom Hanley said was store management’s lack of cooperation in rectifying some building inspection violations, such as removing material that was blocking an exit.
“I explained to the manager, ‘This is going to effect your (liquor) license,’” Hanley said.
•Nominated resident Eric Murray to serve as the town’s representative to the Addison County Solid Waste Management District’s Board of Supervisors.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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