Judge refuses to delay hearing on pipeline land acquisition
A federal judge has refused to postpone a hearing in a lawsuit brought by developers seeking possession of land in several Virginia counties for a controversial pipeline project.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline is seeking possession of several properties in Augusta, Bath, Buckingham and Cumberland counties for the natural gas pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
The judge declined Monday to postpone a Feb. 26 hearing regarding land in Bath County, but he ordered developers to turn over more information and gave property owners more time to respond. Disputes over land in other counties also will be addressed at next Monday's hearing.
Many Augusta County landowners already settled with Dominion Energy to hand property over for the pipeline, even if they were initially and remain opposed to the project.
who told us he signed away two acres of woods on his property because he felt there was no choice, but the value taken from him can't be repaid in money.
Dominion Energy said the use of eminent domain is their last resort and they have been able to come to agreements with the majority of landowners that will be affected by the pipeline. However, some property that will be used for the pipeline in Augusta County will be obtained through the use of eminent domain.
Several landowners at Wintergreen in Nelson County have
by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Developers say federal environmental regulations require completion of any
by March 14, and that missing that deadline would push back construction until November.
Work on that process began almost as soon as Dominion got the go-ahead from federal regulators earlier this year.
"We plan to do construction this year," said Aaron Ruby, Dominion Energy spokesperson. "We're only doing it on properties where we've reached an agreement with the landowner and of course not doing any of the activity on wetlands or other bodies that require additional permits."
Ruby projected full construction of the natural gas project, which Dominion Energy estimates will create more than 17,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity, would begin in early spring.
Nancy Sorrells, who lives in Augusta County, is outspoken in her opposition to the project.
"It worries us, of course, because this pipeline's not a done deal yet and Dominion's pretty cocky about moving forward," she said. "This pipeline is inappropriate and unneeded."
Sorrells said people against the project are not discouraged by the new developments.
"I think the people have more resolve than ever," she said. "We're going to make sure that the promises that they make are upheld."