By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — Over the weekend, Kinder Morgan Inc. announced a change of route for its proposed natural gas pipeline, bypassing several northern Massachusetts towns and veering into New Hampshire. But it does not appear the revised route will have any positive affect on North Reading, which remains in the path of a proposed lateral line to the main pipe.
The Lynnfield Lateral proposed by Kinder Morgan would still branch off from the main pipeline in Dracut and head south, through towns like Wilmington, Tewksbury, North Reading, and Andover before terminating in Lynnfield. According to plans presented by Kinder Morgan to the town last summer, the lateral pipeline targeted for North Reading and these other towns would be 20 inches in diameter, smaller than the main line of 36 inches.
“Based on all the available information, we do not foresee that the modification to the pipeline route has a significant impact on the Lynnfield Lateral and the route thorough North Reading,” Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto said Monday night. But he was awaiting confirmation from Kinder Morgan on that fact.
In the meantime, Gilleberto said he has received a request from Kinder Morgan for permission to access 12 parcels of town property for surveying associated with the lateral pipeline. The town has been expecting this request, he said and it is being evaluated by town departments.
Gilleberto said he would submit Kinder Morgan’s survey request for a decision by the board at an upcoming meeting. Gilleberto said he is waiting for a meeting with a Kinder Morgan representative to better understand their intentions.
Selectmen Chairman Robert Mauceri said that before they agree to anything, they want to see a map of the pipeline’s entire proposed route through town. Selectman Michael Prisco agreed, and commented he’d like to know what decision FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) reaches before the Selectmen grant anything.
Gilleberto said the decision on granting access wouldn’t be made without first vetting it with the Selectmen.
The Northeast Municipal Gas Pipeline Coalition held a meeting in Andover on Monday, reported Selectman Jeff Yull and drafted a letter to Governor–elect Charlie Baker stating the harmful effects the pipeline is likely to have on the member communities, that landowners are properly concerned about their property values and insurance rates and that the coalition believes there are viable alternatives that should be publicly vetted and considered.
The alternate route announced by Kinder Morgan would shift the main pipeline into southern New Hampshire avoiding 14 Massachusetts towns along the northern third of the state, starting in Northfield. But the pipeline would cross the southern tier of New Hampshire and then veer south again to a transmission hub in Dracut, where the Lynnfield Lateral is proposed to start. The Massachusetts towns no longer affected include Athol, Pittsfield, Orange, Pepperell and Hancock. Towns that are now affected include Cheshire, Hancock, Shelburne and Lanesborough.
Yull said there is a competing pipeline route alternative proposed by Spectra Energy and Northeast Utilities. “There is a lot of activity here that the coalition is trying to stay on top of,” Yull said.