Mill Creek residents get their first look at the Dominion Resources ACP project map
While Dominion Resources has held a number of open house meetings in counties all along the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, they have not yet visited Randolph County, even though the route would traverse a large portion of the county. Residents of Mill Creek, south of Elkins, got their first look at topographical maps of the route of the pipeline project Wednesday afternoon at the Russell Memorial library in Mill Creek.
The three large scale maps show the proposed route for the pipeline through Randolph County. Walking into the conference room of the library I saw a number of residents pouring over the maps, trying to ascertain where their property lies in relation to the pipeline outlined in red. Lauren Ragland, founder of the WV Wilderness Lovers vs Pipeline Project, admits the maps are not quite what she’d hoped to present.
“These maps are the official Dominion that they made for display at the open houses they’ve had in the other counties,” said Ragland. “The people here in Randolph County have not seen them yet because there has not been a meeting yet. This is your typical aerial map from Google, but Dominion purposely, intentionally chose the height of fall foliage. They are gorgeous, beautiful maps, but you can’t even the prison [Huttonsville Correctional Institution] on the Huttonsville map. You can’t locate roads, streams, rivers, or homes or barns.”
Ragland said Dominion’s labeling of the various land plots differs from what is used by the county assessor’s office, so with county maps in hand, and working with the assessor’s office, she has relabeled the maps to make it easier for residents to get their bearings.
Sharon Mallow, who works at the library, said that the maps were distorted. She lives on Wagon Wheel Road in an area near Mill Creek called Ward Flats, a subdivision of about 40 homes that she estimates are within one quarter to one half mile of the pipeline route. She said the maps show a few of the roads, including hers that dead end when in truth they’re connected.
Joao [John] Barroso, a landowner in Mill Creek has refused surveyors access to his land several times. He’s interested in taking the fight a step further in an attempt to stop the project in Randolph County and plans to meet with attorneys next week to discuss legal action against Dominion.
“If I can do this, I will contact every single landowner here and if they want to join and the lawyer agrees do this, pro bono or on some basis that is affordable or whatever,” he said, “or maybe some people can afford to pay something and some people can’t and that’s fine, but if we can get 30, 40, 50 people together and we can get an injunction and stop them, I think it will be a victory. And we have a chance of doing that.”
“If I can go to the courthouse and get the plat numbers of every single person, I don’t care, if I have to drive to everyone’s door and leave a letter in their hand, I’ll do that.”
While most in attendance voiced their opposition, Mill Creek town council member Eddie “Bill” Currence said he welcomes the project.
“I’m for it,” said Currence, “it’ll create jobs, it’ll create income to the people. You know we need jobs, we need a lot of jobs and it’s going to be good paying, it’s going to help a lot of people. Well the motel up here’s going to get a lot of money out of it, restaurant’s going to get a lot of money out of it, stores and all these going to get a lot of money out of it. The people, they’ll get off welfare and go to work ‘cause they’re making good money, I don’t have a problem with it.”
“Even the land that there talking about they’re going to tear up, after they go through there, they level that up, they seed that down and maybe you can take a vehicle across it, some people will, some won’t. I own property, gas line goes right through it. I don’t have a problem, cows up there eatingyou can mow it, no problem.“
Currence is retired after a long career of working on highway construction. He does question whether the pipeline can be completed in the timeline that Dominion has proposed.
“I’ve worked on a lot of road jobs all over West Virginia and Ohio and it takes a long time to build highways,” he said. “And if you’ve got 550 miles of pipeline, it’s going to take a lotta, lotta people put to work to do that. In three years, it seems to me like it’s almost impossible.”
John Kabler, who owns land in both Mill Creek and in Virginia said he accepts what he believes is inevitable, that the pipeline will go through as planned. He said it’s the job of the citizens and landowners to be good stewards of their land while the construction process is underway so they pass the land down to future generations in the best condition possible.
On October 31st, Dominion submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a Request to Initiate the Pre-Filing Process for the Supply Header Project or SHP that will enable Dominion to provide firm transportation service of natural gas to various customers including the 554 mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The SHP project would include construction of approximately 34 miles of a pipeline loop and modification of existing compression facilities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Dominion is requesting that FERC initiate a National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA pre-filing review of the SHP.
Dominion plans to hold open house meetings in the areas affected by the SHP project, tentatively scheduled for January 2015.