Montague selectmen decline pipeline request
TURNERS FALLS — The town of Montague on Monday joined the list of landowners denying Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. permission to survey for a natural gas pipeline through the county.
The Montague Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on a motion by Selectman Christopher Boutwell to deny the request until Tennessee Gas sends a representative and more information.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. has plans for a natural gas pipeline that would cut through the county on its way to a terminus in the eastern part of the state. The plans appear to be in a preliminary stage, with the company contacting residents for permission to survey their land.
Town Administrator Frank Abbondanzio told selectmen he had been approached by a company representative discussing survey work in conjunction with a feasibility study for the pipeline. Abbondanzio said the representative showed him a map with a route touching on Country Hill, behind his own home in Millers Falls, and with a 200-foot construction easement that would overlap a town-owned parcel on the hill.
Abbondanzio said he asked for a map showing the proposed path in the rest of the town.
“He was not prepared to give that to me,” Abbondanzio said.
Abbondanzio said the town needs to see more information and more public outreach, to applause from the unusually full room.
“We need to have more information before we start giving permission,” Abbondanzio said.
Selectmen expressed displeasure that the company had not sent a representative to present the request and answer questions.
“Search for your own adjective. I think it’s almost an affront to the town,” said Chairman Mark Fairbrother.
Residents in the audience shared various views of the pipeline path they have been presented with, and expressed concerns over the company’s piecemeal approach.
Residents, selectmen and the town administrator all had concerns over the feasibility of laying an underground pipeline in some of the areas discussed.
Fairbrother laughed at the idea of burying a pipeline in the approach to the railroad bridge over the Connecticut River in Montague Center. “The geology in that area is incredibly complex and messed up,” he said.
The effect that individual refusals to allow survey and other work will have is unclear.
“Not to be an alarmist, but I know that utilities do have some eminent domain authority, too; that’s the thing that kind of scares me,” Abbondanzio said.
Resident Gail Lagoy said she believed if enough residents refused permission to survey, they could prevent the project from reaching that stage.
A map of the project included in a Tennessee Gas presentation to a New York board in October shows the pipeline running from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, entering Franklin County in the Ashfield area and exiting in the Orange area.
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