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BURLINGTON — A steady stream of Burlington-area residents flowed through Veterans Terrace, 589 Milwaukee Ave., on Tuesday afternoon and early evening to learn more about We Energies’ proposed natural gas pipeline routes.

The pipeline is proposed to begin at We Energies’ Bluff Creek gate station in the Town of La Grange in Walworth County and end west of the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway KR in Mount Pleasant. Two routes have been proposed: Route A is proposed to run south of Burlington while Route B is proposed to run north.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2020 with completion in June 2021.

At the open-house-style information session Tuesday, We Energies officials showed residents maps of where proposed routes would run and received feedback from the public.

Public feedback

Joanna Storm from Rochester learned that her property was not along the proposed routes, but still expressed concern for her farming neighbors whose properties are. Since the pipeline is expected to be 4 feet underground, she was concerned that any future fencing, pole barns or other agriculture-related infrastructure could be affected.

Dale Welke, a farmer from Rochester, learned that the pipeline would cut right through the middle of his fields.

“My biggest concern is it splits our farm in half,” he said, noting that would take a long strip of crops out of production. He’s also concerned that the pipeline could affect his property values.

David Rowntree, a farmer from Dover, said he was also concerned about the restoration of his tile drain system after the project was completed.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” he said.

Town of Burlington residents Dave and Jean Cimermancic said they hope the pipeline won’t go through their front yard, as is proposed in Route A, because then three out of the four property owners on their block would have to cut down their trees, including the Cimermancics.

But Dave Cimermancic realized most people at the hearing felt the same way — they didn’t take issue with a pipeline itself but they didn’t want it on their property.

“We realize everybody says you need a pipe, you need a pipe — but don’t do it in my yard,” he said. “Well, don’t do it in my yard.”

The Cimermancics learned there was an alternative route proposed for Route A that would go south of their property and cut through an empty field. Their feedback to We Energies was to go along that route.

“We appreciate the opportunity to give feedback,” said Jean Cimermancic.

At the same time they realize We Energies is not the only decision-making entity in the process.

“They communicate what they seem to know, but there’s too many groups involved,” said Dave Cimermancic. “You ask a question and you get a vague answer because nobody knows. We had a chance to express our opinion and hope it will influence the project”

What’s next

We Energies plans to hold two more pipeline information sessions this week. A meeting is scheduled to be held from 2 to 7 p.m. today in East Troy at Roma’s Ristorante, N8416 Highway ES. Another hearing is planned from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Michael’s on the Lake, 3101 Eagle Road, in Kansasville.

Spokesperson Amy Jahns said We Energies would consider the feedback before submitting revised plans to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. She said that as of Tuesday, the company did not have a timeline laid out for that.

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Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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