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Wintergreen Property Owners Plan Fight Against Proposed Pipeline

Posted: Updated: Jun 12, 2017 04:54 PM
Tom Perriello speaking at the third annual Memorial Day Pipeline Project meeting Tom Perriello speaking at the third annual Memorial Day Pipeline Project meeting
Wintergreen property owners attending the third annual Memorial Day Pipeline Project meeting Wintergreen property owners attending the third annual Memorial Day Pipeline Project meeting
Jon Ansell Jon Ansell
Tom Perriello Tom Perriello
Wintergreen property owner wearing a "No Pipeline" button Wintergreen property owner wearing a "No Pipeline" button
NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A candidate for governor is encouraging a groundswell of opposition in Nelson County's largest community to fight Dominion Energy's proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline.

Hundreds of the Wintergreen resort’s residents attended the third annual Memorial Day Pipeline Project meeting Monday, May 29. Many have voiced concerns over Dominion’s plans to have the 3.5 foot-wide pipeline pass right under the only road in and out of the resort.

Property owners are thinking about taking the energy company to court in order to stop or change plans for the natural gas project. They had previously provided their own proposed routes for officials to consider. Now, the Wintergreen Property Owners Association is asking its 4,000 members to vote on a change to its covenants to forbid utilities from crossing the community's public spaces if there's no direct benefit to Wintergreen. The association plans to vote on the measure during a special meeting in July.

“It's just an opportunity for the property owners association and the individual owners to make it clear that their property is important to them and not for use for transmission of natural gas,” said attorney Brian Kunze.

Friends of Wintergreen (FOW) is working with attorneys to potentially represent thousands of property owners in lawsuits.

FOW also detailed on Monday its work over the past year to refute the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's draft environmental impact statement on the pipeline.

“To do the full kind of job and evaluation that's necessary in the permitting process that Virginians expect and that the Virginia environment deserve,” said FOW Chairman Jon Ansell.

Additionally, Friends of Wintergreen is urging supporters to get more involved in state-level politics to counter Dominion’s lobby in Richmond. The energy company typically makes political contributions.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello attended Monday’s meeting, and explained his opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“What's so frustrating to both conservatives and progressives in the room is the idea that this is really just about protecting monopolies at the expense of economic growth in the future,” Perriello said.

The candidate also said, “I think it is very, very clear that what's driving this is citizen pressure, supported by candidates like myself who have been willing to stand up and refuse money from Dominion Power [sic] and call this what it is.”

The other Democrat running for governor - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam - was invited but could not attend due to a scheduling conflict. Northam’s campaign said, "the lieutenant governor's position has always been that these projects must be held to the highest environmental standards, and he maintains that position."

Statement from David Turner, communications director for gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northham:

"Lt. Governor Northam advocated for DEQ to raise environmental and water quality standards and DEQ subsequently announced they would be using additional individual 401 water quality certification conditions for each project. These certifications will have to be approved or denied by the citizen members of our State Water Control Board.

"The Lt. Governor's position has always been that these projects must be held to the highest environmental standards, and he maintains that position.

"The Army Corp's permitting process does evaluate and review every crossing-- and if the Army Corps determines that a specific crossing doesn’t meet the conditions of Nationwide Permit 12, then the Army Corps must issue an individual permit for that crossing. DEQ will also need to issue a Virginia Water Protection permit.

"This is a rigorous regulatory process that goes above and beyond what the state has required in the past, leveraging the expertise from the Army Corps while requiring additional conditions to be met through an individual certification issued by the State Water Control Board."