Published in the October 22, 2015 edition
By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — Kinder Morgan, owners of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, has informed cities and towns the energy company intends to file plans for its proposed natural gas pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on November 20, although North Reading still does not know the final route of the pipeline will take through town.
After Kinder Morgan files with FERC, North Reading has 21 days to file with the energy commission to become an “intervenor,” in the approval process, something the board voted to do back in August. As soon as Kinder Morgan files with FERC, the town can file as an intervenor the next day.
Intervernor status gives the town legal standing during the deliberations FERC will undertake in determining the fate of the project.
Community forum Oct. 29
TGP is scheduled to hold three additional community forums in Massachusetts for the pipeline project, called Northeast Energy Direct. The forum closest to North Reading will be Thursday, Oct. 29 at Spinelli’s Function Facility in Lynnfield, located on Route One South. The community forum will be from 6 to 8 p.m. A light buffet will be served. Landowners will receive notification in the mail. Other forums are in Windsor and Northfield, Mass.
Selectman Jeff Yull, the board’s representative on the Northeast Municipal Gas Pipeline Coalition, said Kinder Morgan has shown an interest in purchasing a number of easements owned by Danvers that go through the town of North Reading. Yull said Danvers expressed a willingness to give North Reading the right of first refusal on the easements, but the estimated value has a “high dollar amount,” perhaps as high as $3 million.
Selectmen Chairman Robert Mauceri commented at this point it is unknown if Kinder Morgan is proposing that as an alternate route and Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto advised the board the terms and subject are best discussed in executive session.
Back in September, the town received a letter from Kinder Morgan’s attorneys regarding the Selectmen’s refusal to allow TGP to conduct pipeline surveys on town land and in public ways. This letter was referred to Town Counsel, who opined Kinder Morgan would have the right to access public ways but but they don’t have to be allowed on to town owned land.
Mauceri commented that he thought a survey consisted of taking measurements taken with sextants to lay down a route, etc., but in this case, Kinder Morgan’s survey includes test borings and other work. “They’re not only laying out a direction but they’re surveying the soil quite deep for where that route is planned.”
Selectman Kathryn Manupelli said it’s “really not rocket science.”
“If we told them no, then they’re trespassing and we have the right to say no to them, whether that’s taking for taking measurements or borings or whatever. They would be trespassing.” Traveling over a public way is a different situation, she said.
Selectman Stephen O’Leary agreed. When the company asked to survey, he never contemplated that it would include topographical borings. The Selectmen have not changed their position regarding Kinder Morgan surveying on town owned land and O’Leary said the town should demand clarification as to what KM means by “surveying.”
Manupelli agreed. Kinder Morgan should be coming to the table with much more information than they are providing, she said.
Regarding Kinder Morgan’s desire to survey on public ways, T.A. Gilleberto commented KM never asked for permission to survey. The town found out when they requested police details for traffic and that’s when the town sent a letter telling them to stop. The town also denied access to town owned land.
Gilleberto admitted Town Counsel said the town’s ability to prohibit certain activity on public ways was more ambiguous.
Yull suggested a workshop for property owners directly affected by the pipeline. The town can’t represent the property owners, but it would be helpful to provide them with as much information as they need to help them work with Kinder Morgan or understand the process to contest it. Of the 42 properties affected by the pipeline route in North Reading, 28 are privately owned.
Mauceri commented he finds it hard to believe Kinder Morgan has any rights until they have FERC approval, which obviously isn’t the case. Once they file, FERC will have hearings and the process will play itself out, he said.