NELSON, Va. (WVIR) - “Our Community Won” signs are posted along Route 151 in Nelson County, referring to the July 2020 cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Although, the pipeline will never touch the ground in Nelson County, many landowners are having to fight for what’s theirs.
“These landowners are looking at having this encumbrance on their land now, for the next generation and forever,” Landowner Liaison for the Friends of Nelson Joyce Burton said.
She says despite the project being canceled last summer, those who signed easements to avoid eminent domain from taking over their property, are still bound to those documents.
“Those easements have restrictions on them that mean that those landowners won’t be able to do certain things in perpetuity on their land even though the pipeline isn’t going to be built,” Burton said.
The pipeline was supposed to go through land Richard Averitt owns.
“It was a hell of a fight,” he said. “I mean it was six years of David versus Goliath.”
He’s been vocal throughout the entire process and believes landowners should be freed from these documents.
“Now that the ACP has gone, there is no context in which the government would have ever permitted them to use eminent domain and violate both our national forests and our local lands to build these easements,” Averitt said.
With the easements still intact, Dominion has the power to transfer them in the future. Now, the Friends of Nelson is working to get these easements released.
“The only reason that landowners, even signed easement agreements was because they have the threat of a lawsuit hanging over them,” Burton said. “They were going to lose their land, no matter what. The question was, what were the terms that they were going to lose their land under?”