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Concord officials urge comments on Northern Pass

  • The easement portion of Dean Wilbur's property in Concord on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.(ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)The easement portion of Dean Wilber’s property in Concord is seen last Thursday. Northern Pass is seeking to use easements acquired by PSNH.(ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A chart shows relative height of proposed Northern Pass poles vs. Concord buildings July 2017



Monitor staff
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The towers that would carry the Northern Pass transmission lines through East Concord may be visible from the opposite side of the city and the upper floors of buildings on Main Street.

Fearing the industrial-style structures looming above the treeline will harm the city’s rural character, Concord officials are urging residents to make their opinions on the proposal known as it works its way through the state’s approval process.

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee is receiving public comments by email and at a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

“This process is actually critical for people to have their voices heard,” said Deputy City Solicitor Danielle Pacik, who is tasked with representing the city before the SEC, in an interview with ConcordTV. “The committee reads every single one of those letters, and it looks at them and considers them in making its decision.”

The SEC already received one of those letters from a city resident who will be unable to attend Thursday’s hearing.

“So much has been done in recent years to improve the aesthetics of Concord and this will severely undermine that,” wrote Judie Blanco, who lives on Pleasant Street. “It seems like this is being forced on N.H. residents even though the vast majority of us are opposed to it which makes no sense.”

The city’s official position is for Northern Pass to bury the transmission lines through Concord.

“Concord needs your voice,” wrote City Councilor Jennifer Kretovic in an open letter, “so together we can echo our disdain for the overhead power lines and raise our collective voice – bury the power lines through the 8-mile stretch of our community.”

Assistant City Planner Beth Fenstermacher said the conservation commission hired a consultant to assess the towers’ potential visual impact citywide.

“There are some places even on the west side of Concord as far as Dimond Hill Farm and Carter Hill Farm where you’ll possibly see the Northern Pass structures coming through the city, so it’s beyond just the abutters that will have the impacts,” Fenstermacher told ConcordTV.

“Most of them will be around a nine-to-10-story building as far as heights go,” she added. “It’ll have a pretty big visual and aesthetic impact on the rural character of Concord.”

Most towers would be roughly 100 feet tall, Fenstermacher said, but the ones that cross Interstate 393 are being discussed at possibly 165 feet – taller than the State House dome.

Fenstermacher noted that the project also calls for the clearing of 11 acres of vegetative buffer along the 8 mile corridor through Concord.

“In Concord, the line will pass through very populated areas, both residential and business areas that are important to Concord,” she said. “The poles will be above treeline. They’ll be much higher than they are now, and city of Concord wants to see it buried.”

The deadline to register to speak to the SEC on Thursday has passed, but attendees may be allowed to comment if time allows or if registered speakers don’t show. The public comment hearing goes from 9 a.m. to noon at 49 Donovan St., Concord. Written comments can be submitted to Pamela.monroe@sec.nh.gov.

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