Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Paul Koenig email@example.com
RANDOLPH — Residents agreed last week to allow a natural gas company to build a regulator station and main valve on town property, pending approval by the town attorney.
The 47 voters unanimously approved Summit Natural Gas of Maine’s easement request Wednesday, but questions remain as to whether the land given to the town can be used by a private company.
The 1936 deed for the Water Street property states it can only be used for town purposes and will revert back to the old owners if used otherwise, according to Planning Board Chairman Peter Coughlan.
Coughlan said he doesn’t think the regulator system or pipeline equipment would constitute a town purpose, unlike the highway garage currently on it, but he said the town will await word from its attorney.
If the town attorney “deems that it’s OK to do this, then we have to rely on his word,” Coughlan said. “If it’s not clear, then that’s going to hold up the project.”
The Planning Board is set to review the project at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office. The project must be approved by the Planning Board because it falls in the shoreland zone, Coughlan said.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Bob Henderson said he hopes the town’s attorney, John Larouche, will make a recommendation on the deed issue by Wednesday’s meeting.
Summit will pay $20,000 for the easement to build the 12-foot-by-23-foot regulator station near the town’s highway garage, to the right of the fire station. The company also agreed to pay to demolish the garage, following an amendment at the special town meeting to require Summit to pay for the costs.
If built, the regulator station and main pipe valve will be used to connect the steel transmission pipe being installed northward along Route 27 to plastic distribution pipes that will be able to reach Randolph and Gardiner customers, according to Michael Duguay, Summit’s director of business development.
Duguay didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday.
Any delay in construction of the regulator system could hold up the delivery of natural gas to Gardiner customers, including the middle school and high school, in time for this heating season.
Construction has already begun in Randolph, however. Pipeline construction caused Kinderhook Street to close starting Monday, and the park and ride will be closed for a few weeks, according to the town website.
Henderson said customers in Randolph are expected to have natural gas available by next year’s heating season. The pipeline and other natural gas infrastructure is also expected to bring in significant tax revenue for the town — $44,000 a year once finished, according to Henderson.
“It’s a win-win situation for the town of Randolph,” he said. “And people can’t wait to get hooked up.”
Paul Koenig — 621-5663