Augusta Property Owner Challenges Land Access Statute
An Augusta man plans to challenge a statute Dominion says allows it to survey for a controversial pipeline with or without a landowner's permission.
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - An attorney in Augusta County says he plans to take Dominion Resources to court to keep surveyors off his land. He plans to challenge a statute that Dominion employees say gives them the right to survey for a controversial natural gas pipeline with or without permission from the land owner.
William Little II says he got the idea to file for an injunction after several people in Nelson County did the same thing back in July. Little says he plans to challenge the statute itself, arguing the language is too vague to be enforced. He says it's all he can do to defend his land.
"I looked at the statute. The statute has never been challenged, so it's time to challenge the statute. It's ripe for testing,” he said.
Little says he and two of his neighbors were approached by surveying crews. He was the only one to stand his ground and, after studying the law, he believes he's in the right.
"It doesn't say what happens if you affirmatively deny them permission, which is what I did. Dominion thinks it gives them full right to just come on my property and I don't think it does and I intend to fight it,” Little said.
Little says the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route doesn't physically enter his property, but it does come close enough that a large area would have to be cleared. Little lives right off Scenic Highway, a busy road. While he knows Dominion would compensate him for his land, he says it wouldn't matter.
"If you cut down the trees, you take away our privacy. If we had a beach house and you took away the ocean, you'd be taking away the whole purpose for the beach house. These trees are our purpose for owning this property, and there's no value that you can put on it,” Little said.
Little says, going forward, he thinks his case will represent more than just his family's plight. "We are fighting for us, for me and my family, but we're really fighting for all of our neighbors."
He says he has filed an official complaint with the company, which he expects them to try to get thrown out. Then he will pursue getting a court date set. He also says he will be asking for a jury trial, because he wants other county residents to be involved.
Dominion has not returned NBC29's calls.