Tuesday, July 28, 2015

UpDate on Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Update on Proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline
I've received lots of feedback from constituents regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline - a new project proposed to move natural gas across New Hampshire - so I wanted to send you an update on where the approval and planning process currently stands and how you can get involved. I share many of your concerns regarding the pipeline, thus I also want to share with you some of the steps I've been taking to ensure your voices are heard as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) considers the project. 
New Hampshire must pursue smart energy policies that both protect our environment and lower costs for Granite State families and businesses. As a Member of Congress, it is my role to help Granite Staters get involved in the decision-making process on the federal level whenever a new energy project is proposed in the state, so we can ensure these goals are met. Your concerns and suggestions should influence every step of the approval and planning process for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, and I've taken a number of steps to amplify your voices and ensure your thoughts are heard and reflected in the federal review process. Click here to read more about my advocacy work.  

While FERC will have the final say on whether the pipeline moves forward, Granite Staters must be a part of the decision. That's why I'm writing to let you know about additional ways you can influence FERC's decision-making process:  

FERC Coming to NH this Week

FERC will be holding three preliminary scoping meetings in New Hampshire, two this week and another meeting that has not yet been scheduled. These meetings are extremely important, as they will provide the public with an opportunity to make formal, on-the-record comments directly to FERC staff.  I strongly encourage all constituents to get engaged in the process and attend your closest scoping meeting.  FERC-run scoping meetings will be held on the following dates and times: 

Nashua Radisson, 11 Tara Blvd, Nashua, NH 03062
Wednesday, July 29th at 6:30PM

Milford Town Hall, One Union Square, Milford, NH 03055
Thursday, July 30th at 6:30PM

Winchester, NH
Date, Time and Location TBA 

Because FERC is the agency ultimately responsible for approving or rejecting the proposed pipeline, I strongly encourage you to participate in FERC's scoping process by contacting FERC directly. Even if you cannot attend a scoping meeting, you can share your thoughts with FERC here, or by sending a letter to the address below: 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426
I remain eager to hear your thoughts on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and I will continue to relay your questions and concerns to FERC. If you’d like to share your thoughts with me, you can submit a comment on the pipeline here, or email me at a new email address I've created specifically for folks with comments for me about New Hampshire energy projects: NH.Energy@Mail.House.Gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon! 

Thank you for everything you do to make the Granite State such a wonderful place to live.

Washington, DC Office
137 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5206
Concord, NH Office
18 N. Main St., 4th Floor
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 226-1002
Nashua, NH Office
70 East Pearl Street
Nashua, NH 03060
Phone: (603) 595-2006
North Country Office
33 Main St.
Suite 202
Littleton, NH 03561
Phone: (603) 444-7700

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fitzwilliam and Troy officials confront regional planning commission about pipeline proposal

So where were Winchester's Officials?

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

FITZWILLIAM — Officials from two towns want to know where the regional planning commission has been during the past few months, as residents, organizations and local governments scramble to educate themselves about a controversial pipeline project.
Fitzwilliam selectmen told the commission’s executive director during the board’s meeting Monday night the organization hasn’t provided the kind of accurate and neutral information residents and municipal boards need to understand the pros and cons of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project proposed by Kinder Morgan. Members of the Fitzwilliam and Troy conservation commissions and the Fitzwilliam Planning Board, who were all in attendance, echoed selectmen’s concerns. Fitzwilliam selectmen asked members of the regional commission to attend.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, a Kinder Morgan company, is proposing to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from shale gas fields in Pennsylvania through upstate New York, part of northern Massachusetts and into southern New Hampshire before going to a distribution hub in eastern Massachusetts.
The proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline would cross 71 miles of southern New Hampshire, including the Monadnock Region towns of Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.
Southwest Region Planning Commission officials said they’ve been gathering information and working on maps following a request from AECOM, a company hired by Kinder Morgan, for documents and reports about natural resources, wildlife, aquifers, conservation lands, topography and other features along the proposed pipeline route.
But that work takes time, and represents the equivalent of a full-time position, Timothy P. Murphy, executive director of the commission, said.
He added that town officials with questions, concerns and suggestions should always feel free to contact the commission, and up until the Monday meeting, hadn’t heard from any communities directly affected by the pipeline.
In addition, when the commission received the request from AECOM, it went to its member towns first to make sure this was what they wanted the commission to do, he said. By doing so, the gathering of information didn’t start right away, he said.
“We didn’t want to start on this if it was against the wishes of the communities,” Murphy said.
Commission officials also wanted to make sure AECOM was going to pay them for the work, Murphy said.
He said in a phone interview Wednesday he believes AECOM is paying the commission about $5,000.
Commission officials have been, and are continuing to make any information they have about the project available, including on a web page that has been up on the organization’s website for the past four to six months, he said Wednesday.
Since then, residents and officials in some towns have gone farther in their research than commission officials have been able to go, he said.
Southwest Region Planning Commission covers Cheshire County and parts of Hillsborough and Sullivan counties.
The communities in the commission’s coverage area where the pipeline is proposed to travel through are Winchester, Richmond, Fitzwilliam, Troy, Rindge, New Ipswich, Temple and Greenville.
Murphy said Wednesday the planning commission hasn’t before dealt with the process involved in vetting and approving an interstate natural gas transmission pipeline project, and it doesn’t want to approach the matter “haphazardly.”
“We’re trying to find our way in this process to be as effective as we can within resources,” he said.
However, Murphy’s answers at the Monday meeting weren’t good enough for Fitzwilliam and Troy officials. They put Murphy and two other representatives from the commission on the spot, asking why the commission’s website didn’t have the depth and breadth of information about the project that was available from the Nashua Regional Planning Commission.
“My request would be for Southwest to do better,” Fitzwilliam Selectman Susan S. Silverman said. “There needs to be more information made available to people.”
In trying to understand the project, its benefits and its ramifications, people often have only two extremes to look at when trying to find information, she said.
The planning commission needs to be a place where neutral information about the project and natural gas transmission pipelines can be made available, she said.
“Often, people are operating with less than perfect information,” she said. “This has a lot of layers and facets, and I think a good place to find that information would be your website.”
She added,” We’re not asking you to take a position on the pipeline. We’re asking for information to be shared.”
The Nashua Regional Planning Commission website has a tab for “hot projects” that includes the pipeline. Clicking on that link brings viewers to a page chock full of project information that includes an overview; links to project documents, background about pipelines and local news articles; maps of the areas in the pipeline’s proposed path; information for property owners; and links to state and federal agencies involved in the project’s approval process.

In contrast, a link from Southwest Region Planning Commission’s website brings one to a page with a map of the proposed route, a project overview, summaries of the state and federal review processes for the project, and information links for Kinder Morgan, the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission, the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee, and the U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Material Safety Administration.


Marianne Salcetti, chairwoman of the Troy Conservation Commission, suggested the Southwest Region Planning Commission host some kind of meeting with residents in all the towns affected by the proposed pipeline.
“We’re heading into the scoping phase, and that’s huge,” she said.
In addition, Liberty Utilities is talking about running a cost and benefit analysis of building a “lateral to serve the Keene Division,” which could result in more towns being affected by the project, she said.
Liberty Utilities is a subsidiary of Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp., which is a partner with Kinder Morgan in the pipeline construction. Liberty Utilities signed an agreement with Kinder Morgan last year to transport natural gas to its customers on the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline.
Fitzwilliam Selectmen Chairwoman Nancy W. Carney said she knows gathering information about the project is a long process, and the Southwest Region Planning Commission works with other communities not in the pipeline’s path. However, this project is a big deal for the region, she said, and should be treated as such.
Carney is also the town’s fire chief.
“We look at you, and you have the people, knowledge and ability to do things,” she said. “Towns our size don’t have the ability to produce what you can.”

Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or mfoley@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Kinder Morgan reroutes pipeline path in Winchester

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — A controversial natural gas pipeline is no longer proposed to go through the town’s drinking water aquifer, but the Pulpit Falls and Pulpit Rock property remain in its path.
And that has prompted town officials to allow representatives involved with the pipeline’s development to tour the site, under supervision.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. officials met with Winchester selectmen and conservation commission members Wednesday afternoon to unveil a new preferred route for the pipeline through the town of roughly 4,300 people.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, a Kinder Morgan company, is proposing to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from shale gas fields in Pennsylvania through upstate New York, part of northern Massachusetts and into southern New Hampshire before going to a distribution hub in eastern Massachusetts.
The proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline would cross 71 miles of southern New Hampshire, including the Monadnock Region towns of Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.
Mike Lennon, land agent for Tennessee Gas Pipeline, said the plan is to have the pipeline travel south of the aquifer and wellhead protection area instead of through it.
The new route would have the pipeline leave from Eversource’s electric transmission lines just north of Pulpit Falls and Pulpit Rock, according to preliminary maps provided by Tennessee Gas Pipeline officials at the meeting. The pipeline would cross Tipping Rock Road, and roughly five private properties, heading east before reaching Warwick Road. It would continue east before taking a sharp turn north just after crossing Scotland Road. It would then cross Pudding Hill Road as it continues north.
“At this point, we’re just here to update you, start dialogue, and see if there are other areas of concern,” Lennon said to selectmen and conversation commission members.
The previous plan to run the pipeline through the aquifer concerned the community, and the new preferred route takes that into consideration, he said.
“This is by no means a final route,” he said.
Lennon presented Winchester selectmen and conservation commission members with what he described as “preliminary and crude” maps of the new proposed route that were based on town tax maps and Google Maps.

“We will begin the process of developing updated mapping and starting a dialogue with those property owners on the route south of the aquifer,” he said.
Conservation commission member Benjamin Kilanski asked how many properties would be affected by the new preferred route, and how many, now, would not be.
Lennon said about 17 properties along the previous preferred would no longer be affected, but roughly 17 new properties would be.
“But this is all preliminary,” he said.

Based on the preliminary maps, some of the newly affected properties are owned by Daniel H. Kennedy and Claude F. Kidwell, both on Tipping Rock Road; Arthur D. Leigh off Curtis Road; Nelson J. Murray Trustee; Virginia Morgan Trust at 539 Warwick Road; Hugh E. and George R. McGovern on Warwick Road; Spaulding 2012 Revocable and Warren H. Spaulding, both on Scotland Road; Robert A. Briggs, Jason R. Cardinale and Virginia M. Parker, all on Scotland Road; and the Rev. Cynthia Ryder Trust on Pudding Hill Road.

Conservation commission member Bonnie Leveille asked what will happen to the previous preferred route now that there is a new one being proposed.

Lennon said the old route remains on the table as an alternative.

Selectmen Chairwoman Roberta A. Fraser said while the new route deviates from the aquifer, she is still concerned because it’s going through Pulpit Falls and Pulpit Rock.
“The board has taken a stand that we don’t want the pipeline in town. We’re following the wishes of citizens at town meeting,” she said. “Pulpit Falls is as much of a concern as the aquifer, if the pipeline does come through town.”
Pulpit Falls and Pulpit Rock are on town-owned land that has a conservation restriction saying that the site “forever be held as a nature preserve or conservation area for scientific, education and/or aesthetic purposes.” Only fences, foot trails and property maintenance activities are allowed, the deed says.
The restriction was written into the deed for the roughly 30 acre property between Routes 10 (Manning Hill Road) and 78 (Warwick Road) as part of the town purchasing it from Amy M. St. Clair in 2008.

Kinder Morgan and Tennessee Gas Pipeline officials said they hadn’t set foot on the property at the wishes of town officials who said surveying isn’t allowed under the conservation restriction.
That will now change after the conservation commission voted Wednesday to allow company officials to “walk through” the property.

The 4-1 vote with one abstention came after town officials tried to communicate to Tennessee Gas Pipeline representatives the importance of having the pipeline avoid the area.

“I can tell by the way you’re describing it, you’ve never been there,” conservation commission member John H. Hann said. “You really need to see it to understand.”
Hann and Fraser will accompany the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and Kinder Morgan officials during the visit to the site.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How is this protecting and preserving?

I live within short walking distance from the proposed New Ipswich site of the 80,000-plus hp compressor station planned by Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan for the 36-inch-diameter pressurized gas pipeline through Southern New Hampshire.
Those so close to, but not subject to, eminent domain will receive no compensation from Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan yet our properties and homes have already become worthless in the marketplace from the pure intent of the pipeline. How is it that a private company is allowed to destroy the values of our properties, upset our peace and quiet, slaughter the rural landscape we have paid to maintain, and place us the circle of destruction by way of explosion, fire, toxic gases, poisoned water, noise pollution, high impact vibrations and terrorist threat?
I need the fair and whole market value of my home to fund my retirement. I am 64 years old and cannot re-do my life to regain the financial loss I now face.
Can we do the same to those people who have crafted this scheme upon us?
I cannot host a noisy party without being cited. I cannot scatter a toxic mix of poisons across the land, water and air without criminal prosecution. I cannot build something that is subject to a massive explosion with such intense thermal radiation impact that it incinerates everything it its path over great distances.
I cannot use my property to even raise swine as it is deemed detrimental to the value of my neighbor’s property.
Who has issued such powers of ruin to other human beings to a private corporation with the singular private interest of making huge profits?
Energy companies are some of the richest on the planet. Who gave them license to not only strip us financially, but to also put so many people in harm’s way whenever they choose to do so?
Who is responsible for these travesties of justice? Why are we answering to this call? Why aren’t legislators and regulatory commissions being tasked with these responsibilities?
Isn’t that the purpose of government to protect and preserve?

Evelyn Taylor
New Ipswich

More to pipeline plan than meets eye

Do you live in a town that will not be hosting the Kinder Morgan-Tennessee Gas Pipeline project and think it won’t affect you?
Think again.
Kinder-Morgan, a multi-billion dollar company founded by Enron executives, has petitioned to impose tariffs on electricity bills to finance its project. The fourth largest energy company in the country, already subsidized by your tax dollars, wants you to pony up more money for their profit.
New Hampshire is an exporter of energy to New England. The infrastructure in place has been running below 2008 levels for years. In order to manipulate prices, these companies pretend that there isn’t enough gas to meet demand.
The product flowing through these pipes is not the clean, green energy everyone thinks of when they hear “natural gas.” This gas will be full of toxic substances used during fracking.
The “natural” gas industry has become the primary emitter of greenhouse gases in the country. These pipelines, and the compressors needed to push gas along the pipe, leak. They spew thousands of tons of chemicals into the environment, polluting watersheds, wells, soil, animal forage and the air you breathe.
It will cause chronic health issues for thousands of people. Maybe one of those people will be someone you love. I hope not.
Kinder-Morgan employs public relations workers in New Hampshire to advise it on changing their corporate image. The company has paid out massive amounts in fines, millions of dollars, for violations of federal and state regulations, but one well-placed ad, one donation to a school, or a politician’s event and that is forgotten.
Is that why we haven’t heard the voices of our elected officials denouncing this project?
Wake up, New Hampshire. If this is approved, more will be coming. Add your voice to those fighting this corporate Goliath.

Julie Erb

Kinder Morgan gains important victory in pipeline project

Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 12:00 pm
By Sentinel Staff

If it smells like fish...

The state’s Public Utilities Commission staff gave the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline project a key boost Friday. They gave the thumbs-up to a contract that would allow Liberty Utilities to buy space on the proposed pipeline, called the Northeast Energy Direct line, that would run through southern New Hampshire, including five local towns.
The state’s oversight panel is now one step closer to approving the contract between Liberty Utilities, the state’s largest natural gas distributor, and Kinder Morgan, according to an article in today’s Union Leader of Manchester.
Next up is a formal vote by the three-member commission, which will come after a public hearing July 22. But the endorsement by commission staff is an important victory for proponents of the pipeline.
Opponents told the Union Leader they plan to contest the agreement at the July 22 hearing.
Members of the Pipeline Awareness Network (PLAN) argue the agreement came despite testimony from the PUC’s expert witness and consumer advocate strongly recommending against the plan.
Ultimately, the final decision will be made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, whose five members were appointed by President Barack Obama.
Pamela Young-Allen, the federal commission’s spokeswoman, told The Sentinel last month that the commission will evaluate the possible environmental impact of the pipeline — and whether alternatives exist — before issuing a draft environmental impact statement that will be available for public comment. A final statement will then go to the commission.
Young-Allen also told The Sentinel that the federal regulatory commissioners rarely recommend against a project.
The state’s role, through the Public Utilities Commission, is to determine whether Liberty Utilities is warranted in looking to the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline for gas for its customers. Thus, Friday’s approval by the PUC’s members is an important victory for Kinder Morgan.
It comes despite testimony by the PUC’s own consultant, Melissa Whitten, who said in May that the deal would leave Liberty with “substantial excess capacity that it would not completely absorb or grow into over the life of the contract,” the Union Leader reported. And assistant consumer advocate Pradip K. Chattopadhyay testified the deal should not be approved because it’s not in the best interests of Liberty’s customers.
Consumer Advocate Susan Chamberlin said she didn’t know why the PUC staff came to conclusions that seem to contradict testimony by its own experts. “I can’t explain the discrepancy,” she told the Union Leader.
The agreement between Kinder Morgan and Liberty Utilities was first announced in November.
The proposed pipeline would extend from Pennsylvania to Dracut, Mass., where it would connect with a pipeline to Canada. It would cross through five local towns along the way: Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Will make Pipeline Decision .. Intervenors Have Say In Decision..

A long road lies ahead for pipeline plan:

 By Martha Shanahan Sentinel Staff

  In the months since energy company Kinder Morgan announced it would be shifting its proposed pipeline route north through southern New Hampshire to avoid parts of Massachusetts, some local anti-pipeline activists have placed their emphasis on understanding — and stymieing — the federal approval process.

With slogans like “get the FERC out of Rindge,” local residents concerned about the impact the proposed pipeline will have on their neighborhoods, conserved land and property rates have focused on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that ultimately will give federal approval or disapproval for the project.
But before FERC’s five commissioners make a final decision, a long road lies ahead.
Kinder Morgan and Tennessee Gas, the subsidiary building the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, remains in what FERC calls the pre-filing stage, during which it has held public meetings and sent surveyors to assess the land the pipeline will cross.
Before it can officially file it must first hold a series of so-called scoping meetings in towns along the route.
New Hampshire’s U.S. congressional delegation wrote a joint letter to FERC in April asking that the company hold scoping meetings with any towns that request them and that they cooperate with the towns in scheduling them.
Once those meetings are held, and if enough deals are finalized with the power companies along the pipeline route that have promised to buy gas from the companies, the company plans to file its official application for FERC approval in September, according to documents it filed with FERC.
Then, according to FERC spokeswoman Pamela Young-Allen, the commission’s staff will evaluate the possible environmental impact of the pipeline — and whether there are any alternatives — before issuing a draft environmental impact statement, which the public will be able to comment on. A final statement will then go to the commission.
Staff members rarely recommend against a project, Young-Allen said.
The commission’s five members — all Obama administration appointees — will then read the environmental impact statement and issue a decision on the project.
While the agency doesn’t keep statistics on how many projects the commission approves or declines, Young-Allen said, a “no” answer from the commission is also rare.
Any person or entity who filed after the initial application as an “intervenor,” or a party that would be affected by the pipeline, can appeal the decision, Young-Allen said.
“When the commission issues its order on the project, the intervenors — and only the intervenors — can seek rehearing or an appeal of the commission’s decision,” she said.
But before September, Kinder Morgan must first try to show show it is meeting actual demand in the states the pipeline will cross. Companies in the states between the Pennsylvania shale fields and the proposed Dracut, Mass. terminus — where the gas will connect with a pipeline to Canada — have already signed on to sell the gas to their customers.
The state’s role
The N.H. Public Utilities Commission is charged with determining whether Liberty Utilities is warranted in looking to the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline for gas for its customers.
In New Hampshire, Liberty Utilities has emerged as the only company willing to enter into a contract with Kinder Morgan for the gas, and opponents, such as the nonprofit corporation Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast (PLAN), are aiming at that contract as the battle before the FERC war.
“We’ve all been hearing FERC is where all the decisions get made,” PLAN’s president, Kathryn R. Eiseman, said. “But states have an enormous amount of power.”
PLAN combined two Massachusetts and New Hampshire groups joined to form the regional organization, Eisemen, who is also the director of the Massachusetts group, said.
Eiseman said PLAN has hired a Boston attorney who focuses on energy issues to help the group file, giving it the opportunity to testify at hearings on the deal.
Eiseman did not say which municipalities or organizations are members of PLAN.
But several local towns, including Fitzwilliam, Greenville, Richmond and Troy, have joined another group, the N.H. Municipal Pipeline Coalition, to join together, some signing on as an intervenor in the Liberty Utilities deal.
In a letter to Gov. Maggie Hassan last month, the 13 towns called the pipeline unnecessary and “an insult to conservation efforts of the state, municipalities and conservation easement holders given the existence of better alternatives.”
Susan Silverman, chairwoman of the Fitzwilliam Board of Selectmen, said her town filed with the Public Utilities Commission as an intervenor in hopes of convincing commissioners that the pipeline is unnecessary.
She said she doesn’t yet know if the town will file to participate in the FERC application this fall as an intervenor.
“There’s a lot of ground to cover before that,” she said. “We try to take it one step at a time. ... what comes out of the (Public Utility Commission) will dictate what we do.”
The commission’s decision could be the last time New Hampshire officials can make a decision affecting the future of the pipeline in New Hampshire.
The project won’t need a input from the N.H. Legislature, and local zoning requirements are unlikely to stand in the way of Kinder Morgan’s path once federal approval is granted.
“There isn’t a simple process,” Silverman said. “It would be nice if there was.”
Even if the Liberty contract is stymied, FERC could still go ahead with its application in September, and still get FERC approval.
Eiseman said she’s waiting to see what happens at the state level before her group starts to tackle the federal regulation process.
“When it gets to September, we’ll see whether Kinder Morgan has any contracts approved,” she said. “Everyone is very happy to show them the door.”

Martha Shanahan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1434, or mshanahan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MShanahanKS.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Upcoming Pipeline Meetings

On  May 26th a meeting will be hosted by Winchester Pipeline Awareness at Town Hall.  The intent is to help answer questions the public still has.  The Kinder Morgan open house seemed to just cause more confusion and more unanswered questions.  The meeting will be held between 7-9pm.

There will also be a presentation put on by Kinder Morgan on June 2nd.  It will be like the meetings that have been held in Richmond & Fitzwilliam,  if anyone attended one of those.  Preference to asking questions to KM reps will be affected landowners,  abutters,  residents and non-residents if time allows.  The meeting will be held from 7-8:30pm.

Please attend both meetings. Your support and voices matter. This is a very important issue for all of us , not only just those affected immediately by the construction of the pipeline through their properties; but the town itself and all citizen's of Winchester. This project will have great environmental impact and poses numerous threats to public safety as well as allowing an out of state company to seize private property for profit.

 More information regarding the fight to keep Kinder Morgan out of Southern New Hampshire and our backyards 



Thursday, April 16, 2015

BOS Meeting Minutes 04-01-14

And the trend continues, even with a new board .. spending more than needed to ensure favoritism is alive and well in Winchester..

Monday, April 6, 2015

Winchester selectmen divided

... on allowing company to survey for pipeline

 By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — The board of selectmen will stand against the surveying of town property for Kinder Morgan’s proposed natural gas pipeline, but its members will do so divided.
The board voted 3-2 at its most recent meeting to draft a letter to Kinder Morgan, denying its representatives access to survey town-owned property.
Selectmen Chairman Roberta A. Fraser and members Ken Berthiaume and Jack Marsh Jr. voted in favor of the motion. Herbert “Chan” Stephens and Theresa G. Sepe opposed it.
About 25 people attended the meeting at the Winchester Town Hall, with most of them there to encourage the selectmen to take a stance against the project.
“I know many of us here are looking for leadership,” said Rick Horton, a resident and chairman of the school board. “You are the leaders of this town, and you need to make a statement and follow through.”
The selectmen’s vote comes after the majority of residents participating in town meeting last month approved three petition articles directing town officials to take certain actions opposing the proposed construction of a pipeline by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, a Kinder Morgan company.
Those actions are to deny the company and its associates permission to enter town-owned property to perform surveys; oppose approval of the project by the N.H. Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee because the proposal is inconsistent with the town’s goals of protecting and preserving its aquifers, drinking water, wetlands and streams; and oppose approval of the project by the N.H. Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee because the proposal is inconsistent with the basic tenet of individual property rights.
The margin of approval for each article ranged from 149 to 183 votes, out of roughly 600 total votes.
The company is proposing a pipeline to carry natural gas from shale gas fields in Pennsylvania through upstate New York, part of northern Massachusetts and into southern New Hampshire before going to a distribution hub in eastern Massachusetts.
The Monadnock Region communities on the proposed route are Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.
Selectmen in Fitzwilliam and Rindge have already taken united stances against allowing Kinder Morgan to survey property in their towns of the pipeline, and supported other anti-pipeline warrant articles voters approved last month.
Before the Winchester selectmen voted on April 1, board members engaged in about 20 minutes of heated debate among themselves and with some audience members about whether the selectmen should take a position on the entire project.
Sepe and Stephens said they needed more information about the project to make a decision, while Berthiaume, Fraser and Marsh said they needed to stand behind town meeting’s approval of three anti-pipeline warrant articles last month.
The debate escalated to a shouting match at one point, with Sepe defending her position to anti-pipeline audience members that selectmen don’t have all the information yet to take a stance on the project.
Sepe said she and her family live less than 300 feet from the pipeline, but she hasn’t made a decision yet about the project because she doesn’t feel she has all the information.
In addition, she said she believes it’s important to separate her personal opinions from her role as a selectman.
“I want to get more information. That is just how I feel. If you don’t like it, too bad, that is how I feel,” she said.
The only action Sepe said she’d agree to is selectmen writing a letter to Kinder Morgan saying that voters approved the three anti-pipeline warrant articles, and including the wording of the articles.
Horton said he was disappointed that Sepe feels as she does about the matter.
Fraser said selectmen should take a stand against the proposed pipeline.
“As the governing body of the town of Winchester, we have a responsibility to carry out the voters’ wishes,” she said.
Toward the end of the debate, Stephens said selectmen would meet with Kinder Morgan officials at the end of this month, but didn’t have a specific date.
Marsh then made a motion to draft a letter to Kinder Morgan to deny its representatives access to town-owned property.
He had just gotten a few words into it, when applause and cheers erupted from pipeline opponents.
After the vote, some residents spoke for and against the pipeline, including Bill McGrath who said he was concerned the town could get slapped with a lawsuit because one of the anti-pipeline warrant articles goes against state law.
Fraser confirmed that one of the articles isn’t legally enforceable.
The article they were referring to was about not allowing Kinder Morgan representatives to survey town-owned property.
Resident Ronald W. Croteau said the town has to fight the project.
“It’s not going to help the state of New Hampshire one iota, or the town of Winchester,” he said. “It’s going to deface our town.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Town puts out call for budget advice

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff
WINCHESTER — Selectmen have decided to appoint a financial advisory committee after voters opted to dissolve the budget committee earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the budget committee’s former chairman, Brian Moser, said Thursday he questions if residents knew what they were voting on at the March 10 town meeting.

Voters decided, 299-248, against keeping the budget committee, which was established at town meeting in 1935.

The warrant article, which was amended at the deliberative session in February, made no mention of the budget committee. Instead, it asked voters if the town will continue honoring Chapter 32 of state law. The provision allows for communities to establish budget committees.

“I think nobody understood it,” Moser said. “But the way it was written is apparently legal, so there is not a whole lot I can say about it.”

The original warrant article asked voters to “rescind the provisions” of Chapter 32, and included a sentence saying that an affirmative vote would abolish the budget committee.

The committee was tasked with setting the town’s annual operating budget, but with the group disbanded, the responsibility now falls to the selectmen.
Selectmen Chairman Roberta A. Fraser said Thursday the board voted unanimously on March 18 to appoint the five-member financial advisory committee that will function similar to the budget committee.

“It kind of keeps the checks and balances still in place,” she said.
The biggest difference is that the advisory committee won’t have legal standing, she said. Also, she noted residents will be voting on a budget crafted by selectmen, not a committee specifically formed for that task.

Tell us all how that keeps checks and balances in place Roberta, if : #1) the BOS CHOOSES who's on this committee and ..#2) The committee has no legal standing
Fraser said she hopes the advisory committee will be in place by June, as the budget meetings start in late summer and culminate with voting the following March.
Anyone interested in serving on the committee is welcome to contact the town hall, she said.
Moser said he hasn’t decided if he will put his name in for the committee. He added he is concerned that

 only the selectmen and school board are empowered to put a budget before voters.
“I think the taxpayers will lose some protection from overspending and bad choices that they would have had with the budget committee,” he said.

It’s too early to say if there will be an article on next year’s warrant to bring back the budget committee, he said, but he believes some interest exists among residents to restore the committee.
Moser said he’ll be interested in what the selectmen’s 2016-17 proposed operating budget looks like, and how well the board does in managing the 2015-16 budget.
“There is no way to guess until they do it,” he said.
Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or mfoley@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Planning Board Notice of Public Hearing 4-6-15

Town of Winchester
Planning Board
Notice of Public Hearing
The Winchester Planning Board will be meeting on 4-6-15 at 7pm on the Main Floor of the Town Hall, 1 Richmond Road for the following hearing:

The board will review an application for Earth Excavation Permit Renewal, which includes a request to excavate to a lower elevation, submitted by Mitchell Sand & Gravel. The property is located on Payne Road, Winchester map 15, lot 51. If the application is accepted as complete, the board will move into a hearing on the matter.

Should a decision not be reached, the hearing will stay on the Planning Board agenda until it is either approved or denied. The files are available for review at the Land Use Office during regular business hours.

Margaret Sharra, Land Use
Surprised this even made public on the board's agenda. Notice that the fact he wants to dig down another 80 feet wasn't mentioned; nor the fact that once he has finished looting all the material he can ship down to Mass. he'll simply walk away, leaving a huge hole in the ground to be filled up by rain water and that will eventually become a hazard to all living in the area. This is unacceptable.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mitchell Attempting To Expand Pit .. More Blasting

For those of you sick of the blasting and noise from Mitchell's Quarry, there's an important meeting coming up at the Swanzey Town Hall , March 26 at 6 pm. He's looking to get his permit renewed, which expires on November 15th, 2015 and permission to blast down 80' lower right on top of our aquifer. This place was once a brown zone and was never cleaned up. Can you imagine what could happen should they hit a vein and release long buried toxic chemicals? Though this will effect the Swanzey part of the pit, it will affect everyone down river should something happen. Plus, who wants a lake there once he walks away. What a hazard for children in the area who will be drawn to it and think about what a breeding ground for mosquitoes this will be. The meeting will be open to the public no matter where you are from. Come and let your voices be heard.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Keene is best place for Winchester students

This letter is in reference to the recent vote in Winchester regarding a petitioned article asking the voters if it is in the best interest to send the students to Keene High School.
The voters said that it was not in the best interest to send the kids to Keene. That is the 374 voters who voted in the affirmative, out of the 4,100 residents in Winchester. This article is purely advisory. I believe the article stated the tuition increase being charged to Winchester from Keene and that certainly influenced the vote.
I recently contacted Monadnock, and the tuition to send a student there is $16,400, and if that student is special ed, it will cost $25,000 plus; if the IEP requires a paraprofessional, that would be an additional cost.
The cost Keene is charging is right in line with Monadnock. The article in the paper cited poor communication and lack of information about the Winchester students. If the Winchester School Board members would like information from Keene, they should ask specific questions and allow the time to receive the information.
As far as lack of information on the students, ask the questions. It has been my experience so far this year that my communication with Keene has been great. I have been in contact with the guidance counselor, his administrative assistant and a number of teachers. They emailed or spoke to me with the accurate information in a timely manner with results.
I have found the teachers to be willing to help, caring and very knowledgeable. The classes my child is taking are challenging. I already had one child graduate from Keene High School, one to graduate in 2018 and I have one child in the Winchester School. I am very happy with the Winchester School and Keene High School. I do not want to see the students go to another school. Allow the parents and the students to voice their opinions and concerns, if any, before there are any decisions made.
The majority of the voters, 374, said it is not in the best interest, but that is not the majority of the town of Winchester. Sending the students to Keene is in the best interest of the town of Winchester.

Laura Aivaliotis

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vote is bad for Winchester, by Robert Davis

It is another sad day in Winchester.

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. The article on Winchester abolishing the budget committee (Sentinel, March 12) stated the warrant article was not straightforward, which prompted local officials to seek advice from the town’s attorney.
The town’s attorney had full oversight Feb. 10 at the deliberative session; was this time to address the controversial language that should have never been allowed, causing this unclear, controversial article to be accepted as rewritten and presented to the town moderator to be read out loud and allowed for arguments.
Then the rewritten article was amended and voted to be placed on the warrant. When people’s questions arose, we the taxpayers then paid the town’s attorney for a second opinion, which looks like a ploy for covering up their mistakes. Something is not right here, unless you’re one of the supporters conspiring with the selectmen. In the town’s history, this was not the first warrant article that was purposely written to confuse the voters in a manner that would ensure the desired outcome.
Being a past budget committee member and one of the selectmen’s so-called “villains” of the budget committee, I was vehemently offended with the contemptuous underhanded lies the selectmen spilled out of the town hall in their attempt to abolish the budget committee for their own interest, not the voters.
In the past, the selectmen wanted a free hand to set the budget without any cuts, to be what they, the selectmen, determined it should be, without the oversight of the budget committee. Several years ago, the selectmen intentionally delayed the budget committee process, delaying members from getting the department budgets on time. It was a know fact the selectmen deliberately dragged their feet in preparing the budget, causing us, the budget committee to be delayed in getting started.
The final budget was submitted as required by law, but selectmen objected to our budget cuts. Then the selectmen threw a fit by taking the budget committee to court to have the selectmen’s higher budget restored. I have the budget committee minutes proving it was the selectmen that were delaying the budgets and not giving us the true facts, which caused bickering over the budgets.
I will predict the low voter turnout at the polls, with the confusing language on the Warrant Article 15, stating, “To see if the town will vote to continue honoring the provisions of RSA 32 adopted by the town at regular town meeting in 1935,” led to the passage.
Who knows what NH RSA 32 is about in 1935? J believe abolishing the budget committee will be detrimental to the town’s tax rate and the checks and balances. By allowing a few to decide how to spend your tax dollars for the majority is totally insane. Can anyone remember how our town manager was caught with corruption charges and the selectmen supported him all the way and tried not to fire him? If you think you’re the fourth-highest taxes in the state, just wait. If you think you can trust our selectmen to do the right thing, think again. Please voice your opinion and have the vote on Article 15 invalidated.

by Robert Davis