Middlebury to vote on Vt. Gas easements on Nov. 7

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents on Nov. 7 will vote on whether their community should charge Vermont Gas for three pipeline easements it is seeking on town-owned property.
The selectboard has tentatively decided to give those easements for free to Vermont Gas, which is building out distribution lines within the community for its Addison Natural Gas Project.
But local resident Ross Conrad believes Vermont Gas should have to pay for those easements, and he launched a successful citizens’ petition effort to give residents a say on the matter.
“Vermont Gas has had to double the costs of their pipeline… Why can’t they spend a fraction of these funds to pay for the town’s land that they are taking to use for profit instead of looking for a corporate handout,” Conrad told the Independent after he had gathered more than 400 signatures on his petition, which he filed a few weeks ago.
Town officials have countered that Middlebury traditionally hasn’t charged for easements needed by public utilities that serve town residents. Vermont Gas pays property taxes on its pipeline infrastructure. Easements are also provided at no cost to Green Mountain Power.
The first easement being sought by Vermont Gas involves the municipal parking lot parcel located on the northern side of Cross Street, behind the town office and Ilsley Library buildings. The second easement affects the municipal parking lot located on the souther side of Cross Street, near Mister Up’s Restaurant. And the third easement will affect the municipal parking lot located on Mill Street.
The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday unanimously voted to hold an Australian ballot vote on the easements question on Tuesday, Nov. 7. That vote will be preceded by a special town meeting on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Mary Hogan Elementary School gym. Should that space be unavailable, the meeting will be held at the town office building at 77 Main St.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]

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