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Middlebury plan changes OK’d

MIDDLEBURY — In addition to making their decision on using option tax reserves for a utility project, members at their Tuesday meeting also approved several moves that came before the board earlier this summer.
First, they unanimously approved some proposed amendments to the 2012 Middlebury Town Plan. Those amendments fined-tuned some language and clarified, at the request of the planning commission, development priorities related to public venues in the downtown — including construction of the new town office building. Some of the changes drew concerns at an initial public hearing on the changes held in late July. But the changes drew little feedback on Tuesday night.
They also unanimously agreed for the town to become the single customer of electricity generated from a 150-kilowatt solar array that would be built on farmland at 1330 Twitchell Hill Road in New Haven. It was last month that representatives of the Acorn Energy Co-op introduced the proposed 650-panel solar project to the Middlebury selectboard. In exchange for signing a 25-year contract, Acorn Energy officials said the town would receive an estimated $1,500 to $2,000 annually in solar generation rebates from the project.
But Middlebury selectboard members first wanted to hear the New Haven selectboard’s impressions of the project before giving it their blessing. The New Haven board reported no significant concerns with the plan, leading to the Middlebury board’s thumbs-up on Tuesday.
In other action on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard agreed to a Middlebury College request to send a letter to the Vermont Public Service Board supporting a proposed bio-methane project that would benefit the institution. The project calls for the installation of a bio-digester system at the Goodrich Farm off Shard Villa Road in Salisbury. The digester would extract methane from manure (sourced on-site and from other farms) and convert it into a biogas that would be funneled to the college, which would use it to replace 640,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil annually from its energy mix.
Plans also call for installation of a 4-inch pipeline from the Goodrich Farm and within the public rights-of-way along Shard Villa Road, Three Mile Bridge Road and Creek Road to ultimately connect with the now-approved Phase 1 Addison Natural Gas Project pipeline in Middlebury. The bio-methane project has been reviewed by the town of Salisbury and will need to pass muster with the state’s Act 250 and Act 248 reviews.
Middlebury selectboard members heard from one local resident, Alpine Bingham, who reported the pipeline would traverse a portion of his family’s property off Creek Road.
“I think this is a costly endeavor with environmental damage involved to do public good,” Bingham said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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