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Opinion: ACRPC must adhere to regional plan

Editor’s note: The following letter was presented to the Addison County Regional Planning Commission on June 11.
I believe that we all have obligations to our constituents, to our fellow commissioners and to the integrity of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission to conduct our proceedings in a civil manner and to assess the factual material presented to us. It is for this reason that I raise concerns regarding our recent vote whether the Phase II pipeline proposal was in conformance with all applicable provisions of our regional plan.
We have discussed Goal D, Object b, which states “for no large-scale energy generation or transmission facilities, which have as their primary purpose providing energy to markets outside the Addison Region, to be constructed or expanded in the region.” This provision was placed in our plan primarily in response to the VELCO project. However, subsequent to its inclusion in our regional plan, attempts to delete it failed.
The most remarkable statement in the minutes of a report to the full commission from the Utilities, Facilities and Service Committee from Jan. 12, 2005, is “the committee felt that this statement was the most powerful tool available to the RPC if the future VELCO goes back to the PSB with a plan to upgrade the line from New Haven through Monkton, or if another project, like the gas pipeline, is ever proposed.” The committee strengthened the provision by substituting the word “energy” for “power.” The full commission on Oct. 12, 2005, defeated a motion to delete Goal D, objective b, from the regional plan.
Another item we have discussed is the definition of the “Addison Region.” The Addison Region is clearly defined many times in our regional plan, both in narrative and maps. It is defined as 21 municipalities and “the Addison Region, bounded on the west by Lake Champlain and on the east by the Green Mountains.”
The PSB has indicated that Phase II must be evaluated on its own merits. It is separate from Phase 1. Our commission’s responsibility is to determine if Phase II conforms to our regional plan.
When the Vermont Legislature passed its statute governing municipal and regional planning it established goals for regional planning commissions. One of these goals is as follows: “To encourage citizen participation at all levels of the planning process, and to assure that decisions shall be made at the most local level possible.
The facts are as follows:
•  Both the Shoreham and Cornwall electorate at town meeting overwhelmingly opposed Phase II.
•  The Middlebury selectboard at its recent meeting voted to remain neutral regarding support for the issuance of a Certificate of Public Good for Phase II by the PSB.
•  The Monkton selectboard passed a motion on May 12, 2014, “that if the ACRPC holds a revote on Phase II of the ANG pipeline and any ACRPC committee determines that Phase II of the pipeline project is not in compliance with the ACRPC regional plan, the SB directs Monkton’s delegates to the ACRPC to vote that the Phase II pipeline is not in compliance with the regional plan and therefor cast a vote against Phase II.”
These actions appear to satisfy the Vermont Legislature’s goal “to assure that decisions shall be made at the most local level possible.”
The issues of “orderly development” and “undue adverse impact” must be addressed. The Phase II pipeline project if completed will create a brand new utility corridor through Cornwall and Shoreham and under Lake Champlain. This in effect creates interstate commerce and the governance of this utility corridor can shift to a federal agency (FERC). Vermont and our commission can lose control of the orderly development or our region and can be subject to further undue adverse impact.
The ACRPC should follow its regional plan as written so that in the future the regional plan can be defended. We have an obligation to another generation of commissioners to establish a viable precedent.
Stanley Grzyb
Middlebury

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