Pipeline route comes into county’s focus

A proposed map of the Chickahominy natural gas pipeline shows it running roughly parallel to Route 33, starting near Boswell’s Tavern and continuing into Hanover County. 

Though the developers of the proposed Chickahominy gas pipeline canceled their appearance before the Louisa County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 20, they did share a map of the proposed route.

The pipeline would run parallel to Route 33 from just north of Boswells Tavern to the Cuckoo area along or adjacent to an existing utility easement. The easement does not continue where the pipeline is proposed from Cuckoo to the Hanover County line.

The State Corporation Commission informed county officials on Sept. 17 of the application by Chickahominy Pipeline, LLC and asked them to weigh in on the proposal. The developer asked the SCC to determine that the pipeline is not subject to the commission’s jurisdiction because it will only serve a single gas plant and the developer is not a public utility.  

The supervisors agreed that the pipeline should be subject to state regulations, but said they prefer to meet with the developers before they take any action.

“The thought of them not having to have a public hearing so that our citizens could be informed, let alone this body, is a little scary,” said Supervisor Eric Purcell (Louisa District). 

 Board members said they were disappointed that the developers didn’t approach them first before approaching residents to survey their properties. They were also upset about the developers’ last-minute decision to skip the Sept. 20 meeting.

Chickahominy manager Irfan Ali informed County Attorney Helen Phillips that he had failed to add the meeting to his calendar. 

The county initially had until Sept. 24 to respond to the state’s notice. But Chickahominy’s attorneys agreed to extend the deadline to Oct. 8 to allow the developers to speak at the Oct. 4 supervisors’ meeting.  

Barnes said he was concerned about the developer trying to use eminent domain to acquire property for the pipeline. Eminent domain is the power of the government to convert private property to public use. According to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the government can only exercise eminent domain if it provides proper reimbursement to property owners. 

If the developers were to have eminent domain, it’s unclear what the county could do to stop them from putting in the pipeline. Ali said in a published report during the summer that the developers would not try to force landowners to accept the project.

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