Pipeline would trample on Amherst’s 2010 Master Plan

To the Editor:

When the Amherst Planning Board created the town’s latest Master Plan in 2010, it stated that “Amherst’s Vision” is to “preserve and enhance its unique rural and small town character.”

Among the “Ten Key Master Plan Recommendations” contained in our town’s 2010 Master Plan were:

1. Ensure that new development and redevelopment respect Amherst’s natural resources and complement the town’s existing character.

2. Continue to preserve Amherst’s natural resources and rural landscapes…and water and air quality.

3. Save open space in residential development.

Fast forward to 2015, and Amherst finds itself in the crosshairs of a proposal by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company and Kinder Morgan. They propose running a high-pressure natural gas transmission pipeline through existing residential neighborhoods and across taxpayers’ private property and tunneling under the Souhegan River four times in less than a 1?2-mile near Souhegan High School.

Citizens in 18 communities across southern New Hampshire are fighting this proposal, as numerous communities in Massachusetts did before the pipeline route was moved north of their state border and into our state.

Pipeline developers have proposed paying the town a bit more than $500,000.00 for the right to barrel through Amherst. But in so doing, they would trample on the majority of goals stated by our town’s own 2010 Master Plan, and force many town residents to file for property tax abatements and other remedies to offset expected devaluation of private properties.

And what of the new safety issues that would be raised by the location of such a natural gas pipeline through Amherst? One can only surmise the Amherst Fire Department is not currently trained or prepared with the proper equipment to deal with a potential “anomaly” as pipeline developers might call it.

Private citizens and selectmen in other New Hampshire towns are joining the opposition to the pipeline. Hollis has already successfully forced it to be diverted around that town. The pipeline proposal is now Amherst’s calling as a community to preserve our natural resources and rural, small town character.

It is our responsibility to preserve the integrity of the Souhegan River, of existing residential neighborhoods, and important open spaces and woodlands in Amherst. You can learn more by visiting NHPipelineAwareness.org, or by joining the new Amherst Citizens Natural Gas Pipeline Awareness group on Facebook.

Joseph Daniel McCool