Town selectmen have spoken

The Amherst Board of Selectmen has taken a strong stance against a proposal by Kinder Morgan to run a natural gas pipeline through their town and for that we applaud them. The selectmen, in a letter sent last week to Kimberly D. Bose, secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, did not mince words saying, in essence, the proposed pipeline would be harmful to the town.

Here is some of what they wrote. The pipeline, they said, would:

1. Introduce new, significant and adverse effects on the community that would disrupt and compromise the town’s unique historic, “small town” and semi-rural character, as well as existing natural landscapes and middle school and high school recreation fields.

2. Disturb and permanently diminish the quality of life in existing residential neighborhoods because of significant construction through cul-de-sac neighborhoods that would be bisected by the proposed pipeline, because of permanent clear-cutting and pipeline maintenance, and because of the potential of the seizure of privately owned residential land through eminent domain.

3. Unnecessarily risk the town’s most precious surface waterway – the Souhegan River, which is used for a range of recreational activities and contributes in many ways to the town’s rural character and high quality of life – as well as wetland areas, including Ponemah Bog (more on this below).

4. Undermine the town’s stated Master Plan goal of carefully managing both residential and industrial/commercial development.”

Answer that, if you can, Kinder Morgan.

And there’s quite a bit more; the letter is eight pages long. You can find it on the town’s website. Suffice it to say that the points mentioned above should be enough to give any regulatory commission pause. But will they? Who knows? Regulatory commissions too often ignore the wishes and concerns of local communities and there’s no guarantee this federal agency won’t this time.

But the Amherst selectmen, and the Milford selectmen before them, are now on record as saying, emphatically, “No.” They might still end up with a pipeline they don’t want, but at least they’re doing what they can.