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Pipeline Could End New Milford Family's Maple Syrup Operation

By Kerry Longobucco.
The 124-mile Constitution Pipeline is poised to run gas from Susquehanna County, to New York and New England. But one New Milford family is going head to head with project officials -- saying having a pipeline on their property will be the end of their maple syrup operation.

For the Holleran family, maple production started as a hobby, that turned into a passion -- and later, a small business.

"We produce pure, pennsylvania maple products," Megan Holleran said.

But with the Constitution Pipeline route slated to run through their 27-acre New Milford property, which was obtained by eminent domain, the future of that business looks bleak.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (or FERC) gave the project the green light to cut through the Holleran property, by granting the pipeline a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

"We will no longer have the usage of the land in any way that might prevent the construction or the usage of the land in any way that might prevent the construction, or the usage of the pipeline," Holleran said.

Neighbors are supporting the family in their fight to have the pipeline rerouted -- avoiding the Hollerans' land altogether.

"I would like to see them not come through here, and take the viable route around us, and go around this piece of property," neighbor Mary Ann Zeffer said.

Pipeline officials say avoiding the property completely, is an impossibility.

"They proposed to move the pipeline off their property, to the west," Michael Archie, of Williams Pipeline Companies, said. "But unfortunately, there was a quarry there, which would have made constructability of a pipeline in that area unfeasible."

The landowners are entitled to compensation for their inconvenience -- but so far, they've rejected the package offered to them.

"It was a very fair compensation package that included the value of trees and other parts of their property," Archie said.

But Holleran says there's no putting a dollar amount on her beloved family business.

"It takes close to 50 years for a maple tree to grow to the size that we can produce syrup from," Holleran said. "So, even, if they destroyed our maple trees, and we decided to plant somewhere else, that won't happen in my parent's lifetime. It might not even happen in mine."

If they are unsuccessful in disputing the eminent domain decision, the Holleran family says they'll have their property appraised privately, and seek fair compensation through further negotiations.