Dominion Hosts Third Open House in Highland

The Dominion Resources information and public relations caravan rolled into Highland County for the third time Thursday, as the company held another open house at The Highland Center in Monterey. This event was scheduled for landowners and other interested parties to gather more information after Dominion notified property owners of their intent to survey for an alternative route for their Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The alternative route passes further south through the county, and adds 14 miles to the overall length and 30 additional miles of private property crossing, but reduces the amount of the Monongahela National Forest crossed by 15 miles.

Frank Mack, Dominion spokesperson, explained.

“The reason we’re here is that we recently announced that we’re looking at some potential alternative routes through Highland County. That includes 65 parcels of property. We still have our proposed route, that we’re still investigating, and trying to figure out if that makes more sense, but we’re also looking at this other route that’s coming a little farther south.

“What we’re here for today is an open house, so that gives those landowners who are going to be affected by this potential alternative route have been invited, along with other stakeholders, so they can come and see the maps, they can talk with the Dominion representatives. We’re here to answer questions and if we can obtain more information from landowners or from other folks, to ultimately come up with the best route with the least environmental impact, that’s really what our goal is.”

He also commented on the timing of the notification. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was holding a scoping meeting in Augusta County to receive public commentary on the project the same evening as the open house.

“I think the timing, even though it looked tight, it’s coincidental that we came out with our decision to survey the potential alternative routes around the time that F.E.R.C. Was announcing it’s scoping meetings – we don’t have any control of that. As far as anybody, if they feel like they didn’t have enough information, obviously they were communicated to for this open house, so they can come to this open house. They can also file their comments up until April 28th, but even as the F.E.R.C. has mentioned, even thought that’s the end of the scoping period, they will still accept comments afterwards, so there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to communicate to that.”

The event was sparsely attended, with the 35 guests barely outnumbering Dominion employees present.

Mr. Mack had no new news to report on the status of the legal action initiated against twelve Highland landowners who have refused access to their property up to this point for surveying purposes. He felt confident that Dominion had followed all proper procedures according to Virginia statutes, and that a judge would rule favorably. He also noted that permission has been granted to survey the George Washington National Forest – no decision has been reached yet regarding the Monongahela.

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Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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