July 07. 2014 9:20PM

Alternative routes being laid out for gas pipeline expansion

Union Leader Correspondent

HOLLIS — Stewards of a conservation site facing “complete defacement” by the pending Northeast Expansion natural gas pipeline project presented an alternate plan to Hollis residents Monday evening at a special Board of Selectmen meeting.

It was standing room only at Hollis Town Hall on Monday night, where the majority of the 80 or so residents attending indicated that if they had to have a pipeline going through the town, they’d prefer it avoid the Beaver Brook area altogether.

At the meeting, members of the Beaver Brook Association (BBA) said they’d been working with an engineer to draft several potential routes for the natural gas pipeline.

In addition, town official cited also working with its legal counsel to voice their dismay about the project and explore what options are available in the months ahead.

According to BBA spokeswoman Celeste Barr, the association has easements on all of its lands, which specifically states its stance against having utilities crossing those sites.

BBA’s conservation lands span more than 1,280 acres of forests, fields and wetlands in Hollis, as well as Brookline and Milford, according to the organization’s website.

Barr said the association recently hired Tri-Mont Engineering to assist them in defining alternate routes, hoping to encourage Kinder Morgan avoid all conservation lands while using as many public right-of-ways as possible.

“We have a pretty good sense already that there’s very little appetite for this pipeline to go through Beaver Brook or any of our residential lots,” Chairman Mark Le Doux said Monday night.

While the board encouraged residents to save their comments for the coming week’s public hearing, no one in the room raised their hands when asked if they’d prefer what’s believed to be the original route being considered by Kinder Morgan.

Town Administrator Troy Brown encouraged citizens to email him and the board with any questions or concerns throughout this week.

“Right now, our objective it so share data so during the upcoming public hearing, we’ll have a sense of the residents’ preferences,” Le Doux added.

BBA officials said this week they plan to reach out to Kinder Morgan in hopes of sharing their ideas.

While company officials have yet to reveal the exact route being proposed for the pipeline, initial surveying requests made to property owners and the BBA have already given locals a pretty good idea of what the company is considering.

As it appears based on that knowledge, the Hollis portion of the route being proposed by the gas distributor is an estimated 12 miles starting at the Pepperell, Mass. town border, crossing into Hollis and winding through the conservation site, town officials said this week.

At 15.8 miles, an alternate route being proposed by the BBA crosses Highland and Meadow streets, running parallel to Route 13 for eight miles and follows the existing utility corridor.

Two other routes proposed are of similar length and would both utilize existing utility corridors and public right-of-way. Maps of the three alternative sites may be viewed online at www.beaverbrook.org/pipeline/.

A public hearing on the alternative routes will be during the Monday, July 14 selectmen meeting. Residents are encouraged to contact Brown in the days leading up to that hearing. Brown can be emailed at TA@hollisnh.org or by phone at 465-2780, ext. 103.