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Snubbed by Northern Pass tour, towns from Plymouth to Deerfield seek stops



Monitor staff
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A two-day bus tour this week of sites that would potentially be affected by Northern Pass will go here and there, but nowhere south of the Notches.

A group of intervenors from towns on the southern side of the controversial project that would bring Canadian hydro power to markets in southern New England is asking for that to change.

Representatives from 13 towns requested Tuesday that at least one more day – and ideally two – be added to the site visit schedule to showcase areas from Plymouth to Deerfield, some of which were never visited by the Site Evaluation Committee on a similar tour last year.

The sites that would otherwise be ignored on this trip include downtown Plymouth, “where the line will disrupt a major access route through the center of town (which is a dense commercial and residential area),” and Concord, “where the line will go through its most densely populated area and dense commercial and industrial zones,” according to a filing before the Site Evaluation Committee.

These locations and others in Ashland and Deerfield present challenges that “are unique ... and not identical to the issues in the northern part of the state,” said the motion, which was signed by Concord’s Deputy City Solicitor Danielle Pacik and two other representatives on behalf of 12 towns.

A third day for the tour was originally granted but not scheduled. After inclement weather forced new dates, the most recent order from the SEC scheduled the two-day trip for Thursday and Friday and asked for the parties to file a motion for any additional site visits, Pacik said.

“Our understanding is that the Site Evaluation Committee will likely allow an additional day of inspections in the southern area,” she said, noting that she hoped there would be another day specifically for Concord. “The subcommittee indicated that they thought Concord should have its own day.”

A similar tour over four days in March of last year put intervenors and officials from the SEC and Northern Pass on buses that traveled to some, but not all, of the spots requested by municipalities. They were met along the route by protestors.

Tuesday’s filing argues that there’s reason to revisit some areas, which would have appeared differently in March as compared with July, and add new ones.

“Since that time, the Subcommittee has heard testimony regarding construction issues, traffic disruption, and other impacts that may be caused by the Project in these locations,” the filing says, noting that additional site visits will “further educate” the subcommitee as it considers impacts to tourism and aesthetics.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at
@NickBReid.)