Concern grows over Hollis portion of proposed gas pipeline
HOLLIS — With dozens of residents reportedly approached by surveyors from the Tennessee Gas Pipeline project in recent months, a controversial pipeline has been the talk of the town.
During Monday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, residents flooded the community room at Town Hall, where officials shared the latest information on the project, also known as the Northeast Expansion Project.
The company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, Inc., hopes to construct approximately 250 miles of new pipeline in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut and will reportedly be making a final decision in the coming months on whether they’ll move forward with the project.
The project proposal includes the possible addition of a “spur lines” branching off the main line near the Pepperell, Mass., town line through Hollis and ending near the Nashua Airport. However, the final decision would be contingent on survey results, company officials previously said.
Town Administrator Troy Brown said the town has not yet received a formal filing for a project permit, though selectmen were asked by company officials to survey property in town earlier this year.
“The information wasn’t very forthcoming,” Board Chairman Mark Le Doux said Monday.
Town officials have invited project officials to share details on the project, including the exact locations of proposed survey activity, during a public meeting Monday, April 21. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.
Brown said no one in town to his knowledge has consented to a survey thus far, although he noted that if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorizes the pipeline, construction would begin in Spring 2017.
In late February, selectmen received a letter from Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company land agent Stephen Martin informing them of the preliminary survey process and studies along the proposed pipeline route and seeking the board’s blessings.
Last month, former Board Chairman David Petry (now vice-chairman) received a letter from Kinder Morgan Energy Partners spokesman Allen Fore.
In the letter, dated March 14, Fore said he “anticipated that the company would be able to located a significant portion of the pipeline adjacent, or generally parallel, to the existing pipeline and electric utility corridors” though noted landowners along the proposed project route were being contacted.
Concerned about the project’s implications, the Board of Selectmen has hired Attorney Robert Ciandella of DTC Lawyers.
Ciandella, who attended Monday night’s meeting, reminded citizens and town officials to be vocal and vigilant in the days to come.
“This isn’t a circumstance where you can wait and let the game come to you,” he said. “Being proactive is going to be very important.”
Drew Kellner, president of the Beaver Brook Association’s board of trustees, said the group had been approached by Pipeline officials and after careful review, voted against signing a survey provision.
“We’re very concerned and will continue to monitor how the situation unfolds,” Kellner said. “The map we were shown showed the worst possible route in terms of our land topography.”
Lawrence Lane resident Edward Piek, who has worked in civil engineering for many years, said he also had serious reservations about the project.
“The serious issue here is that no one knows how big this is going to be,” Piek said. “We’ve seen no economic studies and no alternative routes.”