Middlebury officials revist terms of gas pipeline accord

MIDDLEBURY — At their meeting on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard reviewed an amended memorandum of agreement between the town and Vermont Gas related to the company’s proposed Phase II pipeline. That pipeline would extend from Middlebury to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y.
The memo spells out a variety of conditions that Middlebury officials expect the project to meet. The board on Tuesday added the condition, pitched by local beekeeper Ross Conrad, that Vermont Gas plant forage (in addition to grass) to construction areas that they will be landscaping. The forage would provide food for honeybees, which have been declining in dramatic numbers worldwide.
In other action on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard discussed changes to the Middlebury Town Plan (see story, Page 1A) and also:
•  Agreed to become an “off-taker” of electricity generated by a new solar project that the Addison County Relocalization Network is organizing in the area. More specifics on the site of the 150kW project will follow during the next month, according to Acorn officials.
•  Approved an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for grant funding to finance the first in a $2 million, three-phased “East Middlebury Flood Resiliency Project.” The project is to help stabilize sections of the Middlebury River to reduce the potential of damage to surrounding homes and businesses during future flood events.
•  Adopted a revised policy governing how area nonprofits can apply for annual financial support at the annual town meeting. The policy still requires organizations with new requests to present them with a petition signed by at least 5 percent of the voting public. Once approved at town meeting, the request becomes an ongoing line item in the municipal budget. But the policy now requires nonprofit representatives to appear before town meeting every five years (on a rotating basis) to allow voters to consider re-authorizing their financial requests.
Selectwoman Susan Shashok, who led the effort to revise the policy, said it has received widespread support.
•  Heard a suggestion from former Selectman Victor Nuovo to rename Printer’s Alley to “Stan Lazarus Alley” when that downtown route is widened this fall. That widening will occur with demolition and removal of the adjacent Lazarus building at 20 Main St. Nuovo noted Stan Lazarus’s department store once stood in the area. He called Lazarus “a very good man who cared for people in this town a great deal.” He said some Lazarus customers who were experiencing financial difficulties saw their store debts mysteriously vanish.
“It seems to me an appropriate way to remember him,” Nuovo said.
Middlebury College recently purchased the now-vacant building and turned it over to the town. Town officials have long wanted to remove the building to create better access to the nearby Marble Works complex.
Selectboard members said they will consider Nuovo’s suggestion.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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