TOWNSEND -- Selectmen asked Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan Tuesday night to get more information about a gas pipeline that could be coming through the region before they grant the pipeline company permission to survey town-owned land.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company sent a letter to selectmen asking for permission to survey town-owned land for a possible 250-mile natural gas pipeline that would stretch from Albany, N.Y., to Dracut.
Selectmen Chairwoman Sue Lisio said she would like a detailed map of the route that is being considered, as well as a presentation from a representative of the company.
"I'm concerned about the wetlands we have, I'm concerned about the conservation land, I'm concerned about our river," Lisio said, in reference to the Squannacook River that runs through Townsend.
Sheehan said that a representative from Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company had agreed to come to a selectmen'a meeting in the coming months to give a public presentation on the project.
Lisio suggested reaching out to the other towns in the area that could be affected by the pipeline, which include Ashby, Dracut, Pepperell and Tyngsboro.
"It behooves us to talk to all of those communities so we're all on the same page about what's happening, and how are we going to protect our land, the town's land, but also our precious natural resources and our landowners' resources," Lisio said.
"I think it could be a unifying project, not just for this community, but for our neighboring communities as well," she added.
Residents from Townsend and other affected towns have been approached by representatives from the company asking for permission to survey their land as they seek to finalize a route for the pipeline.
Lisio urged property owners to not feel compelled to sign any forms that they are presented with.
"If you're not feeling comfortable with it, it's your land. You don't have to sign it," Lisio said.
One of her biggest concerns, she said, was that the company would not abide by its stated goal of minimizing disturbances.
"I'm concerned that someone comes in saying they're going to follow all of these rules, then doesn't follow these rules and we end up with the mess afterward," Lisio said. "I want to know what kind of recourse we have."
Selectman Colin McNabb asked Sheehan whether there would be any direct benefit to Townsend.
Sheehan responded by comparing the pipeline to a highway running through town.
"You may drive it, but you may not want it right near your house. You may have natural gas in your house, but you may not want it right near your property," Sheehan said.
Resident Andrea Wood, also a member of the Finance and Capital Planning Committees, said that concerned residents would need to work with the state if they hope to stop the pipeline project from going forward.
"It doesn't sound like we can do very much. It's got to be the state that stops them. We've got to line ourselves up with them and get them on our sides and with us, because that's our best hope," Wood said.
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