Windsor Town Meeting backs plan to block gas pipeline
WINDSOR -- Town Meeting voters sent a clear message Monday by giving overwhelming support to a referendum opposing a proposed natural gas line route through Windsor.
All but one or two of the 76 voters who packed Town Hall for the annual meeting approved the nonbinding referendum in a resounding voice vote.
Voters also approved a $1.9 million fiscal 2015 town and school budget largely as proposed after tweaking some of the articles.
Windsor, like a number of towns along the proposed route of a new Tennessee Gas Pipeline line from Richmond to Dracut through central and northern Massachusetts, had a referendum on the annual warrant, sometimes placed through a citizen petition, as was case here.
Voters decided to take up the referendum first although it was listed last on the warrant. Supporters appeared numerous, but several questions were raised about the wording of the article.
Amendments were made to eliminate references to "fracked gas" pipelines and to gas "obtained through hydraulic fracturing," after questioners said that might limit the resolution by naming only one method of natural gas extraction.
Another reference to "TGP's high-pressure pipeline" in calling on the Select Board to oppose such a line also was considered too specific to one company.
In the referendum, the Select Board also was directed to "instruct our state and federal legislators and executive branch officials" to take action to "disallow such projects."
Select Board members Peter Fusini and Scott Brockway said the town has little leverage over a project that would seek permits through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, although it could try to block the gas company from doing preliminary survey work on any town property.
They also said state representatives have given the town "no guidance at all" on the proposed 36-inch gas line route and project.
Stuart Besnoff said that if the wording is not perfect, "the general concept is that we're against the pipeline."
Douglas McNally said "the [state] reps are waiting to hear from us" on the pipeline issue, later adding that "while we may not have a lot of power against Tennessee Gas, if every community along the proposed route [took a similar stand], that would send a message."
Asked whether the vote should be postponed until after gas company representatives could hold an information session they told the Select Board they would arrange in Windsor, several voters indicated they would oppose that.
On budget votes, the education budget was approved as recommended at $1,236,213, up from $1,222,117.
Changes made from the floor included increasing the line item for Fire Department general expenses in the town budget from $14,000 to $18,654 for turnout equipment for firefighters lacking the gear.
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