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Nelson Co. Judge Will Not Rule in Lawsuit Against Pipeline Surveyors

Posted: Updated: Mar 16, 2016 11:45 AM
NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A Nelson County Circuit Court judge says he will not make any ruling Wednesday in a lawsuit between dozens of landowners and Dominion Virginia Power.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, hired by Dominion, is suing 47 property owners in Nelson County to allow crews to survey land for the pipeline's route.

Landowners in Nelson County want their voices heard by the power company trying to step foot on their property.

The group Friends of Nelson protested outside of a hearing in Nelson County Circuit Court.

"The surveys occur over a period of it can be months. There’s multiple crews that can come onto your property,” said Joanna Salidis of Friends of Nelson. 

 At the heart of the issue is whether a state statute that authorizes natural gas companies to enter people's property is constitutional and being followed by Dominion.

"In cases where we can't reach an agreement with the landowner, we have asked the courts affirm the state statute that allows us to enter their properties to perform the surveys,” said Aaron Ruby, Dominion spokesman.

Dominion needs to survey the land in order for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to issue a Certificate of Necessity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. That certificate gives Dominion eminent domain and the ability to gain easement parcels for construction.

"We survey the route and the reason we do surveys is we want to identify what is the most environmentally responsible route that has the least impact on landowners,” Ruby said.

"One of the things that we would really like is for them to prove need before that right to exclude people is taken away from property owners. That right now is not the case. There has been no process that shows that this pipeline is necessary,” Salidis stated.

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