Regional Planning Commission declines to reconsider pipeline endorsement

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) on Wednesday, June 11, narrowly rejected a request from the town of Cornwall that the panel rescind its earlier vote indicating a majority opinion that Vermont Gas’s proposed Phase II pipeline could comply with the county’s regional plan.
It was on April 9 that the ACRPC board voted 15-11 that the proposed natural gas pipeline from Middlebury to Ticonderoga, N.Y., could pass muster with the Addison County Regional Plan. The board took the vote in light of the Vermont Public Service Board’s ongoing review of the pipeline plan, which would also flow through the towns of Cornwall and Shoreham and under Lake Champlain on its way to the International Paper mill.
The pipeline plan has drawn heavy opposition from affected property owners, environmentalists and various town officials. The communities of Cornwall and Shoreham both passed Town Meeting Day resolutions opposing the $70 million project, which would be underwritten by IP.
Opponents have pointed to the energy section of the Addison County Regional Plan, which takes a position against the construction or expansion of “large-scale energy or transmission facilities” that serve the primary purpose of funneling energy to markets outside of the Addison region. Opponents have also argued that Ticonderoga, N.Y., should not be considered part of the “Addison region.”
But a slight majority of ACRPC board members on April 9 said they believed the Addison region extends beyond the county’s borders. Proponents also contended that the county should not oppose a project that would offer lower-cost natural gas to Addison County businesses and homes; a few homes in Cornwall and Shoreham may be able to tap into the pipeline.
Cornwall’s ACRPC delegation of Holly Noordsy, Jim Duclos and alternates Stan Grzyb and Colin Kriwox introduced the motion to rescind the April 9 vote on behalf of their local selectboard.
Cornwall’s motion drew substantive debate for quite awhile. Adam Lougee, executive director of the ACRPC, said board members on both sides were given an opportunity to speak. Ultimately, the board voted 13-10 against the motion, according to Lougee.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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