ACP Emminent Domain discussed in Williamsville

Representatives from Dominion Transfer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have visited all three of the Local Emergency Preparedness Committees in our listening area in the last month. These groups are where the planning happens to keep our small communities safe if construction begins. While the planning and permitting continue on their way, two other meetings took place recently, one near Deerfield, and the most recent in Williamsville. These were for landowners still working to keep Dominion from taking their land for the pipeline project.

Joyce Alexander lives in Burnsville, and she and her husband donated the land where the local volunteer fire department stands now.   So, Mrs. Alexander is no stranger to the concept of the “greater good”, and public use. Yet Dominion plans to use the private road she and several other families live on as an access road for construction and maintenance of their pipeline. Joyce Alexander,

“It would affect my water. It would affect all the pipes that run under Buck Run Lane to my son’s home for his water, and it runs alongside the creek bed, we get our water from, and the spring originates on that creek where all of us on Buck run Lane get our water supply. And, no, and I have never been told it was an access road, ever, but it’s on the maps. Never been notified.” Judy Allen, another Burnsville landowner resisted having her family’s home surveyed, and described how the struggle is still very real.

“I’ve had two offers from Dominion; I’ll be honest. They stink. Nothing can buy my peace. Nothing can by my tranquility. It would be like taking everything away from me, and I intend to fight as hard as I can. It’s just not right. I believe in the Ten Commandments. I’ll have to stand tall on that. I think when you open a dictionary, and you look up the word ‘steal’, it means theft, it means take against your will something that does not belong to you. I’m fighting that. It’s wrong. There’s nothing right about that.”

Issac Howell of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, an attorney very familiar with both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines was at the Williamsville meeting to offer guidance, as the process gets closer to a certification date from FERC. Chris Johns, an attorney, who has been working with APPLMAD, has extensive eminent domain case experience. Both of the men acknowledge for the landowners who do not want to have their land taken, no “price is right”. Yet, they also point out IF Dominion takes you to court to gain access to your land, then it’s important to get the very best value, and equally as important to set as many of the conditions for their use of, and ongoing rights to it as possible.

For the second part of this story, where the attorneys give some more eminent domain history, and describe how citizens can still make an impact, please stay tuned to AMR.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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