Cornwall pipeline vote canceled

CORNWALL — It is looking like Cornwall citizens will not field a Feb. 12 referendum on the Phase II natural gas pipeline after all.
Citing a recent decision by Vermont Gas to suspend its permitting efforts for Phase II, Cornwall selectboard members are poised to rescind a motion they made earlier this month to hold a townwide vote on whether the community should sign a compensation agreement with Vermont Gas.
That draft agreement includes financial provisions that would have the combined effect of lowering Cornwall’s property tax rate by 4 percent, in return for the community dropping its opposition to the Phase II project that is before the Vermont Public Service Board. That controversial project calls for a natural gas pipeline extension from Middlebury, through Cornwall and Shoreham and underneath Lake Champlain, ending at the International Paper Co. mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y.
Vermont Gas has asked the Public Service Board to delay technical hearings on the pipeline project in the wake of surging cost estimates.
Cornwall Selectman Ben Wood said he and his colleagues reasoned that with Vermont Gas taking a breather from the project, it makes sense for the town to at least delay its vote on whether to negotiate with the company or continue to fight the plan. The Cornwall board is slated to officially cancel the vote at its Tuesday, Jan. 20, meeting.

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