The Town of Shoreham reached a deal with Vermont Gas on Thursday over the construction of the company's proposed natural gas pipeline.

The town selectboard Thursday signed an agreement with the company that will better position the town if the second phase of the pipeline extension is approved by state regulators, town officials said.

"Any town that doesn't prepare for the possibility of a line going through is just leaving money on the table," Shoreham Selectboard Chair Paul Saenger said.

Town residents voted 2-1 against the pipeline this year in a nonbinding town meeting ballot. Saenger said the selectboard's position remains neutral.

The natural gas utility is offering the town a $100,000 fund for economic development, gas service to homes and businesses, loans to pay for boiler conversions to run natural gas, free well testing for potential contamination, and enhanced emergency training and safety management measures, among other conditions.

"If it is approved, the town doesn't come out empty-handed," Saenger said. "It's foolish to go in unprotected."

The proposed second phase of the company's pipeline extension would connect Middlebury to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, New York. The pipeline would pass through Cornwall and Shoreham and then extend beneath Lake Champlain.

Vermont Gas said in a statement that the MOU strengthens the project for the town and the state.

"Pending regulatory approval, this MOU represents a significant step toward bringing the benefits of natural gas to Shoreham as well as to Rutland," said Eileen Simollardes, vice president of Vermont Gas, in a statement.