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April 23. 2014 11:18PM

Hollis citizens speaking out against controversial gas pipeline

HOLLIS — Ruth Herzog Pack seemed to sum up the feelings of the 200 or so residents at a heated two-hour discussion on a proposed expansion of a gas pipeline.

"I hope we can make this impossible, or at least so unprofitable that they take their pipeline elsewhere," she said.

During a brief public presentation Monday night, Kinder Morgan officials said the pipeline's final route has yet to be determined. However, the company representatives said its initial route would take the pipeline from New York toward Dracut and Pepperell, Mass., with lateral lines stretching into Nashua and Hollis and the main line stretching into Merrimack.

The end result of the proposed Northeast Expansion Project, also known as the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, would be an additional 250 miles of pipeline. Company spokesman Allen Fore said the expansion would generate $1 million in tax revenues for the state each year.

Fore said the project's intention is to address inadequate infrastructure in the region and the growing demand for natural gas energy.

"It makes sense for us to look at this right now," he said, noting that about 52 percent of New England was relying on natural gas last year.

If approved, pipeline construction would begin in spring 2017, though Fore said that many, many meetings and public discussions would take place before then.

Kinder Morgan is the largest transporter of natural gas in the United States, boasting some 70,000 miles of gas lines. The company is represented in 45 states across the country. Kinder Morgan already operates about 50 miles of pipeline in New Hampshire; the company paid $1.2 million to state and local taxing bodies last year.

Concerned about the project's implications, the Hollis Board of Selectmen announced last week that it had hired attorney Robert Ciandella of DTC Lawyers to counsel the town on the matter.

Some of the residents said Kinder Morgan surveyors had already approached them. Surveyors also contacted the Beaver Brook Association, town officials confirmed.

Irene Drive resident Craig Jones, whose property abuts Beaver Brook conservation land, said he wouldn't be granting permission to survey anytime soon.

"Clearly, we're going to fight this," Jones said. "So at what point should we start getting our lawyers involved?"

Carrie Kepnes, 37 W. Hollis Road, said the pipeline would potentially sweep right through her backyard, leading to the likely removal of many of her trees.

"They're doing this for their own financial interest," she said, generating loud applause. "Don't think they're just here to provide cheap gas for everybody."

Drew Kellner, president of the Beaver Brook Association's board of trustees, expressed concern over future preservation of the town's natural places.

He noted Kinder Morgan's prior history of laying pipelines through conservation sites in other states, where parts of the properties were acquired via eminent domain — something he fears could happen in Hollis.

"I'm not necessarily opposed to having a pipeline," Kellner told Kinder Morgan officials. "But you seem to be targeting conservation groups because it presents a high level of permit-ability. I have a huge problem with that."

AGuilmet@newstote.com


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