Sandwich Selectmen’s Vote Will Delay Natural Gas Pipeline Project Along Service Road
By: Mary Stanley
A crowd of residents who live along or near Service Road in Sandwich packed the selectmen’s meeting last night, appealing to the board to stop National Grid’s plans to install a high-pressure natural gas pipeline along the roadway.
The residents were worried about safety as wel as possible increased noise in their neighborhoods from the nearby Mid-Cape Highway when vegetation is cleared in the wooded buffer between the highway and Service Road to make way for the pipe.
The Cape Cod Commission has already given its okay on the project. But after listening to the residents and discussing the concerns for nearly three hours last night, selectmen agreed to direct the town’s Director of Public Works not to issue a permit for the project.
“It gives it a little bit of a stay and slows the project down,” Board Chairman John G. Kennan, Jr. said.
This delay will allow selectmen more time to consider whether or not to take further action.
The move was made after resident Michael J. McCabe of Fairfield Drive made a plea to his elected town officials.
“Who from our board is going to stand up for us and make a decision on how they are going to shut this project down,” Mr. McCabe asked.
The project calls for installing 4.4 miles of a high pressured gas line along Service Road, from the Spectra Energy Station on Route 130, near Exit 2, all the way to into Barnstable. The gas line will be laid on the side of the road closest to the Mid-Cape Highway, approximately 15 feet into the wooded buffer zone that separates Service Road and the highway, requiring the clearing of trees and other natural growth.
Nearly 50 residents attended last night’s meeting and they expressed as much dissatisfaction with the location of the pipeline as with National Grid’s failure to notify them about the project. They also took issue with the Cape Cod Commission’s failure to let them speak at hearings on the issue.
“I urge you to listen to the people who speak here tonight. Listen to their concerns and their fears,” Darryl A. Crossman of Telegraph Hill said.
“I hope that you will provide us with a little more consideration than the Cape Cod Commission has shown us to date,” James H. Watts of Karla Lane said.
“I received no notification whatsoever. For me to find out something like this through the back door is inexcusable,” Kathleen G. Gattoni of Service Road said.
“This is completely backward. This meeting should have taken place last summer before the Cape Cod Commission held hearings on the project,” said James Hanlon of Telegraph Hill said.
The residents expressed fears about a high pressured gas line being installed in the middle of a residential area and questioned whether there were more appropriate areas in town to lay the pipeline.
“There were 126 [gas related] explosions between 2000 and 2010 and 102 explosions between 2010 and 2013. [National Grid] has a right to install a pipeline but our problem is they want to install it in a residential neighborhood… I would suggest another viable option - underneath the power lines. The land is flat. It would require no tree cutting and there are very few homes in the area. This is where you should locate the line – not in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” Mr. Watts said.
The neighbors also questioned how the quality of their life would be impacted when 15 feet of trees are cleared and they lose some of the buffer that drowns out the noise from the highway.
“My neighbors and I are going to lose four miles of trees so that the gas company can get more customers down Cape,” Mr. Hanlon said.
Representatives from National Grid responded to the residents concerns and comments during the meeting.
Ed Wencis, Project Manager for National Grid, said his company went through the process of notifying abutters and if some people did not receive notices, it was not intentional.
“We have no issue with notifying residents about the project. There was no deception on the part of National Grid. I apologize if you feel that National Grid was being deceptive. We sent out notices to residents living within 300 feet of this project. In some cases, there may have been a problem with the list of property owners and in other cases, residents may have thought the letter was a solicitation,” he said.
He added that his company held an open house in October last year, inviting residents to attend an information session on the project, but only two people showed up.
As for the loss of trees and vegetation, he said his company plans to hire a landscaping company to replace some of the trees and would even send someone to residents’ homes to personally address the issue.
Selectmen agreed to have the DPW director hold off on issuing any permits for work along the road until they could decide whether the board should intervene on behalf of the residents in the matter.
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