Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Balsams Landscape Has Been Saved!

Every once in a while the good guys win one.
The Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests has reached its goal of raising $850,000 to buy a 5,800-acre parcel of land near the famous Balsams Grand Hotel in Dixville Notch, NH. They made the announcement in a statement yesterday on their website.
The land was considered a key piece on the proposed route of the controversial Northern Pass transmission line project. Developers of the $1.2 billion project – a joint venture of NSTAR and Northeast Utilities   have already spent $4 million buying up land for the project, even though it has yet to be approved.
As an indication of just how important this parcel is to the project, the developers had offered $3 million for this one piece alone. offered $3 million for the same piece of land, but the Tillotson Corporation, owners of The Balsams Grand Hotel and the parcel in question, offered to sell it as conservation land for the lesser amount if the amount could be raised by today (Jan. 15).
The project would bring electricity from HydroQuebec in Canada to southern New Hampshire, where it would then be sold on the open market. The transmission line would cut a wide swath through parts of the White Mountain National Forest, replacing the famously picturesque landscape with tall steel pylons laced with high-power lines.
Even Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has checked in on the project, suggesting that the lines should be buried, a notion the developers reject as being prohibitively expensive.
Will the developers have to abandon their plans? They had to abandon an earlier proposed route in the face of heavy local opposition.
Northern Pass officials have not made any comment yet on this latest setback. However, they have been supporting efforts to broaden eminent domain laws to allow land-taking for private projects. There was also an earlier suggestion by company officials that the Tillotson Corporation was obligated to choose their higher bid in the interests of their stockholders.
Stay tuned.                         

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