Measure aims to blunt impact from planned gas pipeline construction
SHELBURNE — Addressing concerns that have come up during discussion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, town officials are proposing a “Local Road Preservation Bylaw” and a “Bylaw for Siting Large Scale Industrial and Commercial Facilities” to be voted on at the May 3 annual town meeting.
Both proposals would require simple-majority votes at annual town meeting, and name the Selectboard as the enforcing body.
The Local Road Preservation Bylaw is intended to regulate high-frequency and high-impact transportation that could damage local roads and public property.
Under this bylaw, anyone proposing high-impact traffic on local roads would have to obtain a “high-impact use permit,” which would include contact information and a description of the use, a road map and description of the designated route. Video documentation of the condition of the local roads by an independent third party after the road use would be required. This would be paid for by the permit applicant. The high impact use permit fee would be $500.
The permitted party would be responsible for all costs and expenses to repair local road damages caused by its transportation activities. Also, violation of the high impact use permit could result in $300 fines for each offense.
This road bylaw was developed with assistance from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
A 17-page bylaw proposal for “Siting Large Scale Industrial and Commercial Facilities
” directly pertains to “performance standards of large scale industrial and commercial facilitie
s including natural gas transmission pipelines … compressors, metering and venting stations, wind facilities, mining operations and other large scale manufacturing or commercial facilities.”
The purpose of the bylaw is to reduce adverse environmental impacts, minimize noise and earth removal, preserve the town’s rural character and ensure that operations meet with state, federal and local requirements.
This bylaw, if enacted, would apply to all large-scale industrial or commercial facilities that would directly alter 50 or more acres of land and create 10 acres or more of impervious surface. Also, such projects could only be constructed within the town’s industrial zones.
Compliance would be determined by the Selectboard, which may require independent noise or engineering studies, air- and water quality testing, or other tests or studies to be paid for by the applicant.
The application process would include bonding requirements, a Community and Environmental Impact Analysis, a copy of all state, federal and local permits and plans, a traffic impact study and roadway maintenance/repair agreement. It would also require a water withdrawal and discharge plan, a hazardous materials management plan, and other environmental analyses.
Setback requirements for such a project range from at least 750 feet from residential and commercial buildings to a quarter-mile distance for “high on-site populations,” such as retirement housing, assisted living facilities, day care services, and large medical offices.
According to Peggy Sloan, director of planning and development at the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, FRCOG prepared a draft model bylaw for the eight towns on its Regional Pipeline Advisory Committee, so that these towns could review them and customize them to suit the needs of their town.
These articles were presented at a public hearing in February and will be discussed later this month, at a Shelburne Town Forum on April 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School. The purpose of this forum is to discuss and annual town meeting warrant articles.