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Opinion: Senators are wrong — pipeline won’t benefit Cornwall

Sens. Mullin and Flory state that the Cornwall and Shoreham villages would get access to a more affordable heating option by agreeing to Phase II of the Addison Rutland natural gas pipeline. The residents of these towns with access to the gas would be approximately 10 percent of the population, hence leaving the remaining 90 percent out in the cold.
At the first meeting I attended, Vermont Gas representatives stated that they did not want to provide the residents of Cornwall and Shoreham with gas. The representatives made it very clear that they only planned to run the pipeline through Cornwall on their way to International Paper.
The senators’ letter also states that the pipe would be 4 feet underground and only go below rural fields with no ownership rights given up by the landowners. They also said that compensation would exceed fair market value. The truth is, if the landowner wanted to drill a water well in their land zone, it wouldn’t happen. Dig a foundation hole to build a building? No way. Maybe build a septic system? Oh, no to that too. How many other restrictions will a landowners face? Perhaps a 300-foot incineration zone setback. This appears to be an enormous amount of land ownership rights given up.
Fair market value is not what I’ve seen in the past. Look at Cornwall’s lot prices and the small price Vermont Gas/ Gaz Métro has offered and paid most people along Phase I (landowners).
Phase II is one company (Vermont Gas/Gaz Métro) selling to another company (International Paper). Approximately 99 percent of Phase II gas would be sent to I.P.
The people of Cornwall voted on town meeting day to oppose the pipeline, 87 percent to 13 percent, and most of the town’s landowners on the projected route oppose the pipe. News this month of pricing expectations of the installation show that costs will be 50 percent higher than originally projected. What other miscalculations or untruths are we being told?
Sen. Mullins and Flory also write of Cornwall’s household income being double that of Rutland and median house prices over double that of Rutland. Could this be a result of good decision-making on the part of Cornwall residents or perhaps bad Rutland political leaders’ choices?
With 99 percent of the gas in Phase II going to International Paper, Phase II would appear to be a financing scheme and the price for private property owners’ freedoms is exceedingly high. Phase II should not be supported by any politicians.
Brian Gill
Cornwall
 

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