Media Advisory – Community Rally and Court Hearing: Nelson County Landowners’ Right to Deny Survey for Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Contact: Ernie Reed, 434-971-1647
A community rally in support of Nelson County property owners who have been sued by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) will be held on Monday, February 6, at 12 noon on the steps of the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston. The rally will precede the 1:30 hearing in Nelson Circuit Court on ACP’s request for a declaratory judgment that would allow them to enter private property in order to survey for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline without the consent of affected Nelson County property owners.
In the evidentiary hearing on the petition, both ACP and the defendants will likely call witnesses to testify, including experts on the matter in dispute. According to the Circuit Court schedule, this hearing will be for 39 different property owners being sued by Dominion, and they will be represented by several different attorneys.
A previous hearing in Buckingham County Circuit Court resulted in the awarding of a declaratory judgment against 7 Buckingham citizens. That ruling is not applicable to Nelson County defendants.
The defendants claim 1) that Atlantic Coat Pipeline LLC does not have the authority to enter these properties and that 2) ACP has failed to give proper notice of entry as required by the Virginia Code.
“We’re hoping Judge Garrett will hear the evidence and conclude, as we do, that the ACP cannot satisfy the requirements of the statute in order to be exempt from common law trespass,” said attorney Chuck Lollar, who is representing many of the defendants.
“Pipelines can be built using fair practices that respect landowners and property rights,” said Richard Averitt, one of the defendants. “Virginia citizens are being victimized by a corrupt system where Dominion, in this case being treated as a public utility, has biased our system of checks and balances.”
“A bully is an opportunist, using intimidation and manipulation to prey upon isolated, weaker victims for their own self-gratification,” said Barbara Fuhrman, who is also being sued. “Dominion has tried to get individual property owners to allow surveyors on their land, telling the landowner that this was Dominion’s legal right. Some property owners were also asked to sign easement agreements prior to FERC’s issuing a certification of approval for the pipeline, implying that if they didn’t agree now, they might not receive settlement money.”
“We will continue to use the courts over and over again to protect our rights!” Ms. Fuhrman concluded. “ We will never give in! We will never give up!”
The rally is being organized by Friends of Nelson. Additional affected property owners will be available for comment.