Reisterstown Community Concerned About Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline

Columbia Gas Transmission says pipeline from Owings Mills through Oregon Ridge Park to Fallston will add reliability to existing natural gas service to BGE.

A proposed extension of a natural gas pipeline has Warren Alperstein thinking a lot about the well that provides water to his house these days.

Columbia Gas Transmission wants to build a 21.4-mile extension of an existing pipeline from Owings Mills through Oregon Ridge Park to Fallston. The extension is part of a larger system that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico.

The extension would run along side another existing line, but would require the company to expand its current right of way from a width of 50 to 75 feet.

Some of those easements will extend onto or near existing residential property, some residents said.

The line would also run through the backyard of Alperstein's Reisterstown home.

"The thought of a bulldozer backing into my well couldn't be more concerning," said Alperstein, one of two dozen homeowners in the area of Deer Creek Court who would be affected by the extension.

Columbia Gas Transmission officials estimate that about 300 property owners would be affected along the entire 21.4 mile project.

Alex Oehler, director of government affairs and community relations for Columbia Gas Trnasmission, called the extension "essentially a reliability project."

"The main customer is BGE," Oehler said. "What we want to do is put some redundancy in the system."

Oehler said an outage of the current single pipeline would affect a large number of people in the central Maryland area.

"We think this is the best route," Oehler said.

Alperstein and other residents say they have questions about the effect of the extension on their property, safety concerns related to their children and homes, and concerns about the environment.

"When they initially talked about the project they said they would be using the initial right-of-way," said Teresa Moore, executive director of the Valleys Planning Council. "They held onto that line for a long time. I don’t know whether someone was misinformed or what."

Moore said her organization is still trying to work out the effects of the project.

"There's really countless concerns," Moore said. "We really don't have it boiled down."

Moore and others complained that Columbia Gas Transmission and its parent company, Indiana-based NiSource, has not been helpful, despite four public meetings held more than a month ago.

Oehler said the company is focused on being as transparent about the process as possible.

Columbia Gas Transmission officials met again last Tuesday with members of the Beaverbrook Homeowners Association in the Reisterstown area.

The company is hoping to file an official proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by next week. If all goes well, company officials say they hope to get the project underway next spring.

Residents like Alperstein will have another chance to voice their concerns during a public meeting with representatives of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Columbia Gas Transmission tonight at a 7 p.m. meeting at Oregon Ridge Lodge.

A second meeting is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Youth's Benefit Elementary School Cafeteria in Fallston.

david gordon May 10, 2012 at 06:48 PM
If the firm is using an existing right a way, why do they need more than a 5 or 10 foot increase in the width of their right a way? D Gordon, Pikesville


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