The public is waiting to see if a currently shelved resolution that would authorize and direct Mayor Michele Dale to sign a proposed agreement with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company will be on the agenda for action at the next Township of West Milford council meeting on Sept. 8. If so, the opponents will continue to oppose its passage.
Up for a vote at the last meeting the resolution was tabled after an attorney for the gas company made a presentation with information about the project. Environmentalists opposing the construction of Compressor Station 327 asked to council to delay action and take time to study the agreement.
Councilman Michael Chazukow said he was willing to take another look at details of the document that the mayor would be authorized to sign. The other council members agreed that they would like more time to study what the company is proposing before they vote on the resolution.
Insurance costs and payments to the township
Taxable value for the former quarry property on Burnt Meadow Road is $17.5 million, according to the information presented. The agreement says that the company must fund $10 million in general liability and excess liability insurance. It calls for early and follow up emergency response training.
The company would also pay the township an additional $200,000 in two payments. The first would arrive in 60 days and $180,000 more would come to the township when the station receives federal authorization for service.
Environmentalists Carl Stehle of Lakeside and Renee Allessio of Upper Greenwood Lake were among a half dozen people who attended the July council meeting and questioned the reasoning of the council members if they planned to vote in favor of the resolution.
They believe the benefits offered by passage of the agreement do not outweigh the negative factors. The proposal to sign the agreement was seen by Allessio as an act of “total betrayal” to not only West Milford residents, but also their neighbors inn Vernon, Ringwood and other North Jersey towns. Allessio said that a “Carte blanche” agreement with the township and Gas Company would not be acceptable to her and many other residents.
The proposed agreement involves part of Tennessee’s proposed East 300 Upgrade Project to construct Compressor Station 327 in the Hewitt area. On June 30, 2020 Tennessee filed an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with the FERC for authorization to construct, operate, and maintain the project, with an anticipated in-service date of Nov. 1, 2022.
The resolution before the council seeking their vote of approval states that without prejudice to its rights and obligations under the Natural Gas Act, the Pipeline Safety Act, and their implementing regulations, Tennessee is interested in working and cooperating with the township as to the construction of Compressor Station 327.
Ad valorem taxes
The proposal points out that the township acknowledges that Congress through the Natural Gas Act, has regulated comprehensively the siting, construction and operation of natural gas facilities, state and local regulations pertaining to these same issues are preempted.
It says the township wishes to memorialize its intention with Tennessee throughout the course of the project by entering an agreement to address, among other things, ad valorem taxes to be paid as a result of the construction of the compressor station. Passage would authorize Mayor Dale to execute the agreement and take all actions as necessary to effectuate its terms. A council affirmative vote is needed to put it into effect.