Category Archives: Property rights

Quick Take


On Friday, November 16th, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Dominion filed for Quick Take in the US Western District of Virginia Federal Court in Lynchburg. Quick Take takes away the constitutional right to due process for every defendant. It also usurps Congressional authority to make and change laws. Call your Senator and Congressional Representative and tell them to issue a statement telling the courts to stand down!

The video is a crash course explanation of Quick Take and Eminent Domain as it relates to gas pipelines and to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline specifically. Richard Averitt, Nelson County landowner, explains Quick Take in lay terms.

Dominion Holiday Cheer – Not!


Dominion has just filed petitions for “quick take” against at least 21 Nelson landowners, who will now have to deal with making court filings and appearances during the holidays. Petitions were filed in the US Western District of Virginia Federal Court in Lynchburg.

“Quick take” is a formal process of the exercise of eminent domain in which the government (or in this case, a private for-profit company masquerading as a “public” utility) takes possession BEFORE any court ruling on compensation. In other words, Dominion wants access to begin work on these landowners’ properties BEFORE paying the landowners any money, and BEFORE all permits are in place to allow the ACP to begin construction. Some of the 21 landowners were completely unaware that Dominion had filed against them until the Friends of Nelson Landowner Liaison called them with the information. And some landowners had never even been served with notice of the ORIGINAL condemnation lawsuit, even though it had been filed with the court over a month ago!

Dominion loves filing lawsuits as holiday gifts. In the week before Christmas 2014 they began suing landowners who had refused permission for Dominion to survey their property. Dominion filed lawsuits against 27 Augusta County residents and 20 in Nelson County, requesting the court’s permission to enter the properties and survey potential Atlantic Coast Pipeline routes. Reporting on the filings, the Richmond Times Dispatch quoted Dominion officials, who, by the end of December 2014, expected “to file suit against 56 landowners in Augusta and 122 in Nelson. The court would then start serving notices during the first week of January, and those property owners would have three weeks to answer the complaint. A court date would then be set for hearings in each case.”

It is worth noting that a federal court in North Carolina has issued a stay against ACP’s attempt to acquire rights to a NC property by eminent domain, citing the fact that there are pending legal challenges to the ACP that could result in reexaminiation of the project (see story below). Further, last week in New York a state court ruled that a different pipeline company could not use eminent domain proceedings to cross a landowner’s property because the NY State Water Control had denied the permit for the project.

End of the Line: Episode 18, Hellbender


Listen to the new End of the Line podcast, Episode 18, Hellbender. In this episode we hear folks at the “Hellbender Autonomous Zone” talk about the problems around private property and notions of ownership, and how we use collective resistance to fight not just pipelines but the systems that allow for exploitation and extraction that have been allowed to destroy communities in the North America for hundreds of years. Original air date: 6/1/18

Use the links in the sidebar to the right to listen to this and earlier End of the Line podcasts.

Little Pink House: Special Showing

WHERE: The Regal Stonefield, 1954 Swanson Dr, Charlottesville
WHEN: Thursday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: Tickets are $12 general admission, and proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Friends of Nelson. You must buy your tickets online; no tickets will be sold at the door. Purchase tickets here: https://www.tugg.com/events/little-pink-house-dauw

Based on a true story, a small-town paramedic named Susette Kelo leaves a bad marriage, and starts over in a new town. She buys a rundown cottage with a gorgeous water view. She fixes it up and paints it pink. Then she discovers powerful politicians want to bulldoze her blue-collar neighborhood for the benefit of a multi-billion dollar corporation. With the help of a young lawyer named Scott Bullock, Susette emerges as the reluctant leader of her neighbors in an epic battle that goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, inspires a nation, and helps millions of Americans protect their homes.

In 2005, the nation was shocked by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo vs. New London. In the judgment, the court said that a local government could forcibly seize people’s homes, through eminent domain, in order to transfer the property to a major corporation for development. The response was immediate. Across the country, states passed legislation and amended constitutions to curtail the power of eminent domain.  In 2012, the people of Virginia spoke out overwhelmingly when more than 2.6 million citizens (74.45% of votes cast) approved amending the state constitution to prohibit eminent domain from being invoked if the “primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue or economic development.”

Plaintiff Susette Kelo’s fight has been dramatized in this new film, Little Pink House, starring the brilliant, Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Keener as Kelo.

The film is being distributed in an unorthodox manner. Local people sign up to bring it to their town and, if enough tickets are sold, a screening proceeds at a selected local theater. We are pleased to announce that Doug Hornig has secured a showing of the film in Charlottesville:

WHERE: The Regal Stonefield, 1954 Swanson Dr, Charlottesville
WHEN: Thursday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: Tickets are $12 general admission, and proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Friends of Nelson. You must buy your tickets online; no tickets will be sold at the door. Purchase tickets here: https://www.tugg.com/events/little-pink-house-dauw

Eminent domain is a hot button topic here in central Virginia, as Dominion intends to use it to seize private property for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Many of us have been fighting them for several years now, and continue to do so.

We hope to use this event to help educate the public about the importance of fighting eminent domain abuse. Following the film, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A featuring: John Kramer – Institute for Justice, Chuck Lollar – Attorney specializing in eminent domain cases, Richard Averitt – Property owner impacted by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Joyce Burton – Board member, Friends of Nelson, a nonprofit dedicated to stopping this unnecessary pipeline.

Join us – and bring family, friends, and neighbors! We’ll see you there!

Fences and Neighbors


A message from Irene Leech, Buckingham County VA, March 3, 2018

How many of you think it’s only fair for the ACP to make the route adjustment we’ve asked for within our property?

These friendly, curious yearlings will check out everything new in their pasture, including people (they were coming to check me out when I snapped this picture). You can tell from the facilities in the background that we often bring cattle through this area. ACP wants to bisect our entire property and especially, this central field.

We have lots of evidence that pipeline folks do not understand cattle, farming, or the needs of our 100+ year old business. ACP wants to start construction in about a month, but so far, there’s been no discussion of fences to keep these animals or others who come through this field regularly, out of the construction area. I’m not sure the judge who said we’ve got plenty of time to build fence understands that a quick electric fence won’t do the job.

In 2014 we began asking for the pipeline to be moved within OUR property so that it will create fewer problems for our business during construction, reduce the frequency with which we must cross it from now on, and give us a little more safety by moving our buildings to the edge of the incineration zone instead of the middle of it. We are only 4 miles after the compression station so the gas will be at highest pressure. Because we are rural, we only get the lowest safety standards allowed, thinnest pipe, cut off valves 20 miles apart instead of 3 miles apart, last century remote monitoring. We’ve been told that our air is so clean we can afford the new pollution load.

Our multiple requests to move the pipeline within our property are well documented – and ignored by all involved. No written offer for an easement addressed any of our business or safety concerns/ requests. Ultimately, that’s why we never accepted an offer and why they took us to court this week.

Property rights have always been central values of our country and greatly impact the ability of people to achieve their American Dream. While many decry any hint of ANY limitation on what they call Second Amendment Rights, few seem to be willing to fight for property rights that I’d argue are even more central to our ability to succeed in our markets and to our very freedom as citizens.

The ACP is taking a strip of our property for a mile literally through the middle of our business.This will negatively impact us from this point on. It is a government sanctioned way of transferring our asset to a for profit company that is set up as an LLC so it has ultimate protections while granting us no protection (in fact putting extra obligations on us). From now on, the ACP’s interest in our property is legally higher than ours, even though we continue paying property taxes but get no annual income from this infrastructure, only a small one time payment (don’t know what it will be, but when we do, divide it by 70 years and see if it’ll even cover the taxes, much less compensate us for lost value, compensate us for the additional risk and daily hassle of respecting this unsafe infrastructure placed in the middle of our property).

Just curious, how many of you think it’s only fair for the ACP to make the route adjustment we’ve asked for within our property?