Law Firm Offers Pro Bono Assitance
Landowners seeking assistance in their resistance to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project may have a new resource in their fight.
Jim Waldo, an attorney with Waldo and Lyle, a Norfolk based firm which deals with eminent domain issues, has offered to represent landowners pro bono if it can be shown that Dominion and it’s partners have not acted properly under Virginia legal procedures to access land for surveying the pipeline’s route.
Allegheny Mountain Radio spoke with Mr. Waldo via phone. If you have difficulty with the audio, the full transcript is available on alleghenymountainradio.org.
“They are claiming that they have the right to enter the property for survey purposes under state law. Well, if they do, they have to comply with state law. And we’ve already been engaged to represent at least one owner who contests that because the proper legal notice has not been given. If they’re following Virginia state law, they must follow, strictly, the procedures. So what we’ve said is, where this is being abused, we will represent those property owners, without charge, in fighting Dominion Power, because Dominion Power said they were going to sue them.
“There are a lot of different statutes that you got to go from one section of the code to the other, but essentially, if they have the right, they have to contact the owner, and there’s strict requirements on that, and they have to contact them by mail, and they are to send a certified letter, and they’re to give, at least a minimum notice of 15 days. But they’ve got to also explain who’s coming, and what they’re going to do, and they’ve got to give the owner enough time to respond to that.”
“Some of the other pipelines in Virginia, who are not as concerned about their reputation, simply said “we’re coming on your land.”, and I do respect Dominion Power for saying, we’ve got a dispute here, we’ll settle it in the courts. I think that’s the right way to do it.”
Mr Waldo also raised the possibility that, if it can be shown that the project will not benefit the state, Virginia legal procedures may not apply in granting the company access to a property.
“The other concern we have, which we’re investigating and studying, is the public purpose of this pipeline. Supposedly, it may not meet the test, under Virginia law, because it’s not for the public in Virginia, it’s to pipe gas, natural gas, out of state and out of the nation. If that’s true, then we have some concerns which we will raise at the appropriate time.”
Interested landowners can visit the firm’s website at http://www.waldoandlyle.com, where they can find contact information, as well as basic rights of landowners.
AMR also contacted Jim Norvelle, spokesman for Dominion Resources, for comments regarding Mr.Waldo’s thoughts.
“Dominion is aware of the Virginia statute regarding getting permission to survey on private property for a natural gas pipeline. We notified landowners beginning in mid-May, by letter, and then we followed up with a second letter, that on a date certain, we would have the authority to come on property to do the surveying. With the landowners who have denied us permission, that we needed to send them a final letter. So we sent a final letter that says, we’re giving you one more time to give us permission, to come on your property for surveying. If you do not give us permission, then we are going to go to court, and get the state court to affirm the Virginia law that says we can access a property, to do the survey.”
“The letters we sent were certified mail. We followed the directions given to us by Virginia law, and certainly by our lawyers, to make sure that we met all the procedures called for in the Virginia statute.”
Mr. Norvelle also addressed the use of the pipeline by Virginians.
“Dominion Virginia Power, is building new natural gas fired power stations to provide electricity, 24/7, to it’s 2.4 million customers in Virginia, and some of the gas that will flow through this pipeline will end up generating electricity at these new power stations. So, yes, the gas flowing through this pipeline will benefit Virginians.
“The gas that will flow through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is for use in Virginia, and North Carolina and Hampton Roads, and for use by the customers of the joint venture partners. This gas is not headed overseas – this gas is not going to be exported.”