Natural gas pipeline hits a snag - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Natural gas pipeline hits a snag

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A proposed natural gas pipeline through Addison County has hit another snag.  The Vermont Gas pipeline will go through several towns in Addison County before crossing Lake Champlain -- but residents in the small town of Monkton have raised the biggest opposition to the proposed plans.

"You really shouldn't have an uninvited gas pipeline come through your town," said Nate Palmer.

Nate Palmer is one of a few dozen residents who oppose any pipeline plans. The proposed 12-inch pipe would run through his farmland. Vermont Gas has offered him $4,000 dollars in compensation -- but he says it's not enough.

"When you come through with that kind of equipment you rip a big trench through it -- it will take me years to get it back into shape," Palmer said.

Vermont Gas has offered other concessions since company representatives began meeting with residents to discuss the plans in December.  It pushed the pipeline route mostly back to the power lines in the VELCO Corridor and away from town roads after residents raised concerns the pipeline would be too close to their homes. Now Vermont Gas is offering natural gas services to residents and municipal buildings.

"We know this is an imposition, we want to be a good neighbor, and we're going to continue to work with landowners so it's a fair agreement," said Vermont Gas spokesman Steve Wark.

"I support the project. I think it's good for the county, for the state. Not everybody feels that way obviously," said Monkton Select board Chairman John Phillips.  He and another board member recently sat down with company representatives to hammer out a deal they thought would make everyone happy. It keeps the pipeline about 300 feet away most homes.

"I think it protects the town's interest as much as it could," Phillips said.

But Monday night, the three other board members decided to vote it down. We reached out to them -- and spoke to one member on the phone she told us she felt the tone of the memorandum of understanding made it seem like the town welcomed the project. She wished it would sound less supportive.

"They need to resolve their internal issues and identify how they're going to proceed and we're still happy to work with them," Wark said.

The two sides have until June 14th to come to an agreement in order to avoid going into the discovery portion of the regulatory process. That would mean hiring experts to conduct research and testify before the Public Service Board, which could mean a big bill for the town of just 2,000 people.

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