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Cornwall residents to vote on pipeline deal

CORNWALL — Cornwall voters on Feb. 12 will be asked if they’d like to allow the town selectboard to sign an agreement with Vermont Gas calling for the company to compensate the community for ending its opposition to its Phase II pipeline proposal.
The selectboard last month announced a negotiated agreement with Vermont Gas that included financial considerations that would have lowered Cornwall’s municipal property tax rate by around 4 percent. But a large number of Cornwall residents objected to the proposed agreement, saying the town should instead continue to fight the pipeline. The Phase II project would extend the natural gas pipeline from Middlebury, through Cornwall and Shoreham and underneath Lake Champlain, ending at the International Paper Co. mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y.
Some town officials have suggested the Vermont Public Service Board is likely to approve Phase II (the PSB has already OK’d Phase I) and have argued that Cornwall should negotiate the best deal it can get from Vermont Gas. But some residents remain steadfastly opposed to the pipeline for public safety and property rights reasons.
Cornwall selectboard Vice Chairman Ben Wood said if voters balk at the proposed negotiated agreement on Feb. 12, the town will continue to tap its legal fund to oppose the pipeline.

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