March 2, 2018
Dear Property Owner,
On Wednesday, a Federal Court in Lynchburg ruled in favor of the ACP and against landowners fighting the ACP’s early access to their property and Eminent Domain. On the advice of legal counsel, WPOA did not participate and instead focused on pursuing mediation, a FERC rehearing and other legal/political options to protect our community.
As many of you know, WPOA has contested Dominion’s right to seize our property for over two years and will continue the fight to be made whole for all current and future damages. Determining fair compensation will take time however construction will not be delayed during this process. Construction will likely commence and owners should anticipate tree cutting could begin any day.
Public opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is significant and is likely to include protests on or near Wintergreen. Because WPOA has its own police department which is recognized by Virginia Code 9.1-101 we are placed in a very tenuous position. For many owners, it may come as a shock to hear that our police department would be called to enforce the peace during protests. The courts do not allow Wintergreen Police to choose which laws to enforce and law enforcement is considered neutral in all circumstances, applying the law of the land equally and fairly. For the Wintergreen Police to enforce laws at individual homes or condos, they must also enforce the law on all WPOA “open space” which includes the Dominion easement.
This situation presents uncharted territory for all of us. We anticipate there will be some protesting and WPOA respects everyone’s constitutional right to peaceably assemble and to exercise free speech. If however there is an infraction of the law, Wintergreen Police will work with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and the State Police to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth. Although ultimately up to the Sheriff, owners should anticipate there will be verbal warnings, court summons, and arrests if necessary.