Atlantic Coast Pipeline sues Virginia county over zoning

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LOVINGSTON, Va. (AP) — The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has sued a Virginia county over a zoning decision, in an attempt to move the project forward.

The Lynchburg News & Advance reports that the Dec. 6 lawsuit filed against Nelson County is the first time the pipeline has sued a locality during the years-long approval process.

The lawsuit was filed three days after Nelson County's Board of Zoning Appeals denied the company's variance requests for floodplain crossings. The lawsuit seeks a judgment stating the Natural Gas Act pre-empts the county's floodplain ordinance.

A statement from the pipeline's lead partner, Dominion Energy, said they had no choice but to turn to federal court.

Augusta County's Board of Zoning Appeals has also denied requests from Dominion Energy – once in February when the energy company wanted to set up a construction staging area on a farm in Churchville and then again in November when Dominion asked to build a staging area in West Augusta.

In that case, Dominion ultimately found property they could lease in Augusta County without applying for a special use permit.

Nelson County Supervisor Jesse Rutherford says the lawsuit doesn't come as a surprise. The county has yet to appoint legal counsel.

Nelson County, alongside the City of Staunton, issued a challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's final approval of the pipeline last month.