Nelson 151 Worried Proposed Pipeline Will Hurt Local Businesses

Posted: Updated: Apr 08, 2015 05:42 PM
Marker for a Columbia Gas pipeline that runs through an Albemarle Co. vineyard Marker for a Columbia Gas pipeline that runs through an Albemarle Co. vineyard

Businesses along Nelson County's Route 151 corridor are coming out against Dominion Resource's proposed natural gas pipeline project. 

Nelson 151 includes seven wineries, three breweries, a cidery, and a distillery in the county's expanding agriculture-based tourism industry. In total, they employ about 400 people and account for millions of dollars' worth of investments for the county. 

The board for Nelson 151 is sending a resolution to county supervisors, Dominion, and federal regulators. That resolution states the group's opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Nelson County. The businesses are worried the proposed natural gas pipeline will destroy their mountain views, contaminate water, and keep tourists away.

Bold Rock Hard Cider owner John Washburn says he invested $10 million for the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “We've even trademarked the line, ‘Come drink in the scenery.'”

“It's a value. It's a value to have these views and to have this natural beauty. Ultimately, we have to protect that it. And we have to make sure we don't lose that value,” said Nelson 151 Board Chairman George Hodson.

“We understand the issues with the viewshed. We want to protect it as much as possible, but we also want to make sure people have the energy they need every day to lead their modern lives,” said Chet Wade, VP Dominion Corporate Communications.

Dominion points out that a Columbia Gas pipeline runs nearly unnoticed right through a vineyard in Albemarle County.

“Those things can exist very well with agritourism, and in fact, many ways help promote the tourism by providing the energy necessary to run those breweries, run those wineries, run those B&Bs,” Wade argued.

Silverback Distillery owner Christine Riggleman says she's holding off on investing in an expansion for her distillery, because the proposed route for the pipleline comes right through her property.

"I'm still trying to survive and make a profit and run my business,” she said. “We were going to build barrel houses on the property, and possibly expand our production. Now we're sort of on hold, because I don't want to invest that kind of money.”

The board for Nelson 151 is urging Dominion to find a route for the pipeline that uses existing utility rights of way. The energy company says it prefers to use that method, but that is not possible with this project.

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