By Ed Waters Jr.
A number of Myersville residents have formed a citizens group to oppose a proposed natural gas compressor station on Milt Summers Road, part of the Allegheny Storage Project.
Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community was formed to let the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission know the town is not an appropriate location for the compressor, said Theodore Cady, a member of the organization.
FERC will hold what it calls a scoping meeting Monday, primarily to look at the environmental impact of the proposed station, according to a document sent to The Frederick News-Post by FERC. This will include a look at geology and soils, land use, water resources, vegetation and wildlife, and endangered and threatened species.
Cady said the Myersville residents group has a petition opposing the compressor and will present it to FERC representatives. The group had more than 400 signatures Saturday and hoped to have more than 500 by Monday night.
“MCRC hopes to see the land under consideration developed in a way that is useful and pleasing to the Myersville community and attractive to visitors,” Cady said.
He stressed that the citizens group is independent from the town government of Myersville, which is not taking a stand, according to Town Manager Kristin Aleshire.
“I would note that the town has public procedures that it may be required to go through if this development proposal proceeds,” Aleshire wrote in an email, “and thus beyond the fact sheet we have provided and other comments made in public session remain neutral on this matter at this time.”
If the process moves forward, Dominion Transmission will work with the town on planning and zoning regulations and obtain state permits, said Dan Donovan, the company’s director of media relations, in a telephone interview Friday. Company representatives will be at Monday’s meeting.
“We will be there and plan on staying afterwards and provide materials and have experts on all issues about the compressor station,” Donovan said.
The site is 22 acres on Milt Summers Road, off Md. 17. The $55 million station would use about 3.5 acres for three buildings, one of which would house a 16,000-horsepower compressor to boost natural gas flowing through underground pipes during peak times.
Cady said the citizens group is concerned about health, safety and environmental risks to the area.
“We are opposed to having a gas compressor placed in any rural setting like Jefferson,Middletown or our town of Myersville,” Cady said. “If this is truly needed and necessary for the interstate pipeline, we believe that by working with Frederick County and local representatives we can find an appropriate industrial location that will be a better fit for a gas compressor site.”
The property on Milt Summers Road is zoned general commercial. FERC can consider only that site at Monday’s meeting.
Clarksburg, W.Va.-based Dominion Transmission previously proposed building the station on Marker Road near Middletown on land it purchased for $2.4 million in 2009. Opposition from some Middletown residents, who formed a citizens group similar to the one in Myersville, spurred Dominion to consider a site in Jefferson, but that also drew opposition.
At that time, members of the previous Board of County Commissioners also opposed the project, and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett sent a letter to FERC about the specifics of its environmental study and potential impacts to the communities in Middletown and Jefferson.
Bartlett has not taken a stand on the Myersville proposal, which first came to light in August.
“Congressman Bartlett has been reviewing questions and concerns that he has received from constituents about the proposed site in Myersville for a natural gas compressor station,” Lisa Wright, energy and stem cell legislative assistant to Bartlett, wrote in an email. “To ensure that a thorough and comprehensive review of these questions and concerns will take place by FERC, he will submit a formal letter to FERC requesting responses to these and other questions.”
The process, if it moves forward, could take 18 to 24 months, according to a fact sheet sent to residents by the Town of Myersville. Site zoning, site master plan and site sketch plan meetings and review could take that long, the fact sheet stated.
In past statements, Dominion has said it hoped to start construction of the station in 2012 and have it operating in 2014.