Maren Vasatka has spent
the past 33 years building, perfecting and making memories in her Monkton home.
Now, she is worried a proposed gas pipeline could change that.
"Since the first
meeting with Vermont Gas back in November
of 2012, we have waited a
total of 362 days for Vermont gas
to respond to our offers and questions… and they have waited for us for 32
days. Who is negotiating in good faith?" Vasatka said.
Vasatka, along with four
other Monkton homeowners, told the media they're concerned about Vermont Gas'
plans to build a 41-mile pipeline down the Western side of the state. Phase one
of the project, connecting Colchester to Middlebury, just won state approval.
Vermont Gas could use eminent
domain, taking some land. Negotiations are tense, and the homeowners feel their
concerns are being ignored.
"Why should I give
someone the right to totally take away my happiness, my enjoyment of my home
away and it is not in my opinion for my public good," said Selina Peyser,
a pipeline opponent.
Vermont Gas says that this
pipeline will benefit the community, saving homeowners money and reducing
carbon footprints. And Vermont Gas says the project is completely safe, with
thicker, stronger pipes that will be checked regularly for corrosion.
"Safety is our number
one goal. And we want to make sure we serve them in the safest best way
possible. We want to be a good neighbor to them and we want to make sure they
feel comfortable as our customers," said Steve Wark of Vermont Gas.
The company says it
doesn't want to resort to eminent domain. Wark says he sympathizes with these
families and knows how much they value their homes. That is why he wants to
work to find a solution.
"There's a lot of
emotion involved in this and that's very understandable. We're new to the area.
We haven't been in Addison County. We've been almost exclusively in Chittenden
and Franklin counties for almost 50 years, where incidentally, we've never had
this problem before. We've never had to use eminent domain," Wark said.
And Vasatka hopes it won't
happen to her property.
"A lot of it is about
protecting ourselves and protecting our property," she said.
What Vermont Gas' argument
comes down to is that the public good outweighs the disruption that a few
families may face. Those families say they're being bullied. And for now,
negotiations remain at a standstill.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-03-11 23:56:46 GMT
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