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Erving joins pipeline discussion

ERVING — After hearing the concerns of a handful of Erving and neighboring residents, the Board of Selectmen on Monday deferred any town position on the possible Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline to residents at a special town meeting, likely in June.

Erving residents George Moonlight Davis and Morning Star Chenven, who raised the pipeline for a brief discussion at the annual town meeting, brought the topic to the board at Monday’s regular meeting.

Asked what the board members knew about the proposed pipeline, Chairman Eugene Klepadlo said they knew very little.

“The reason we know very, very little is because the proposed pipeline route is on all private property,” Klepadlo said.

Davis asked the board to establish a moratorium of some sort.

“I agree with you that private land is private land ... but this is an issue that affects the air and the land all around us,” Davis said.

Davis, Chenven and others expressed concern over the potential for leaks.

“If they pollute our water, there’s no property line,” said resident Jeff Dubay, among the group present for a later discussion of the Usher Plant.

Conservation Commission chairman David Brule said the proposed route is ambiguous, but would inevitably come before his board.

“We would like to be kept aware of any developments,” Brule said.

Brule said it is possible the pipeline would run through a historic property on which the conservation commission has a development restriction, and as a member of the historical commission said that board is also charged with protecting any historical sites along the route, including potential Native American sites.

The Northeast Expansion Project pipeline, proposed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. and parent company Kinder Morgan, would cut through Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield, Warwick and Orange in Franklin County along the 179-mile route between Wright, N.Y., and Dracut, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and if built along the current lines.

Company representatives have approached some landowners along the route for permission to survey their land.

The proposal has generated opposition from Franklin County residents along much of the route. Warwick residents supported a nonbinding resolution to ban “fracked gas pipelines” at a recent town meeting, the Montague Board of Selectmen has denied the company access to a town-owned parcel in the village of Millers Falls and Deerfield residents voted at April’s annual town meeting to ask their Board of Selectmen to deny access to all town land.

Resident Gary Burnett said he’d rather see any decision on a town position put to the residents rather than the Board of Selectmen, and Klepadlo agreed.

Klepadlo tasked the town administrator with arranging a public hearing with Kinder Morgan to hear their side of the story in June, with a special town meeting June 23 likely to decide any question on the pipeline. What that question would be remains to be seen.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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