Landowners, Dominion Prepare For Court Appearance Over Pipeline Surveying
Nelson County, VA —
The battle over surveying land for the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline is about to head to federal court.
Five Nelson County residents filed the suit against Dominion last fall, saying Virginia's law that allows surveyors to come onto their property without their consent is unconstitutional.
One of the plaintiffs, Charlotte Rae, told ABC-13 in an earlier interview that Nelson County has held a special place in her heart for most of her life. Rae said "Even as a kid, I was just so enthralled with the mountains and beauty of this area. So once I retired from the military, I was drawn back to Nelson County."
Now it's land she and four other residents are trying to defend.
The five of them filed suit last fall against the energy company, stating the suit allowed Dominion to violate their "most fundamental property rights". Attorney for the landowners Neal L. Walters, described the landowners and the property by saying "These were places that they went out into the country to acquire large tracts, in the country, so they could be in a private and secluded place."
Walters says the surveying isn't just people walking around with measuring tape and clipboards- it could be damaging to his client's land, and they should have the right to turn them down. He continued "Surveying can mean all kinds of different things. When it's 'Hey, we're going to come clear 200-ft wide path, dig holes every 50 ft. that are three feet wide, and chop down what we need to do to do that, and we're not going to pay you for it, you know, that's a horse of a different color.
For Charlotte Rae, it's a battle she says she MUST win. Rae laments "If they put a pipeline through my backyard, I'll have to sell the property. I cannot live there."
Tuesday's hearing will determine whether or not the suit goes to a trial at a later date. Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle told media outlets last week he believes Virginia's surveying laws are not in violation of the Virginia or U.S. Constitutions. ABC-13's Dave Walls will be in the courtroom in Charlottesville. Stay tuned to ABC-13 News for the latest.