Attorney: Chance of stopping natural gas pipeline construction in Fayette slim
A Pittsburgh attorney said there is almost no way to prevent the construction of a pipeline that is scheduled to come through sections of German, Menallen and North Union townships.
Attorney Steven A. Walton of the Pittsburgh firm of Rothman Gordon said Tuesday during an informational meeting at the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce in Uniontown that the 36-inch-wide interstate natural gas pipeline is part of a $500 million project.
“You can see this thing is coming,” said Walton.
Walton said a site off Route 40 where heavy equipment and the pipes will be stored is already being prepared. “This is a major construction operation,” he said.
The section, called the Holbrooke section, will be built for a distance of 6.6 miles through the three townships. The section will run parallel to a 36-inch pipeline that already exists. The new right-of-way will extend out to a distance of 25 feet on either side of the pipeline with a construction right-of-way out to 100 feet.
Walton encouraged property owners to get representation. He said not handling negotiations properly with Texas Eastern Transmission LP, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, the pipeline owner, could result with the company taking rights-of-way through eminent domain proceedings with property owners getting very little compensation.
In addition, property owners could end up paying taxes on land that they no longer control, may no longer be able to use the land for their own purposes and may share in the liability for damage caused to their neighbors by problems with the pipeline.
“Once that easement or right-of-way is established, there are certain things you can't do in that right-of-way, despite the fact that it's your property,” said Walton.
Cindi Kumor, who lives in Menallen, learned the pipeline may come through her property.
She organized Tuesday's session and asked Walton to represent her in her dealings with Texas Eastern.
Alvie Edwards said he might want to sell his property, which includes several lots in a housing plan that was never developed because of the construction of the original pipeline. He found that his property value may have already fallen because of the construction. It would not be possible to hide the information on the pipeline from a potential buyer because it will be listed on his property deed.
Walton told those in attendance not to expect a large sum of money for the pipeline right-of-way.
“You're not going to put your children through college,” he said, emphasizing the construction of the pipeline is not the same as having a gas well on the property. The price paid is usually a figure for the linear feet of line to be installed.
Jim Rosenberg, who is interested in Marcellus shale issues and who works on the www.faymarwatch.org website, provided more information on what to watch for. He also told the property owners that no one should try to negotiate with the companies without an attorney.
Since the project is part of an interstate pipeline, Kumor said information can be gained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission operates a website, www.ferc.gov, that can provide additional information, alert property owners to changes and provide an avenue for owners to comment on the project.
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3538.