Northwest Ohio property owners trying to keep NEXUS Gas Transmission from gaining access to their land through eminent domain laws are being encouraged by a Columbus law firm to attend a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. today inside Waterville’s Conrad Park Recreation Building.
Goldman & Braunstein, LLP, said in a flyer that property owners need to “understand this process and know your rights early on.”
“Any[thing] less is like bringing a knife to a gunfight,” the flyer states.
NEXUS has proposed a 255-mile pipeline to send natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale regions of eastern Ohio and West Virginia to markets in Ohio, Michigan, and Canada.
The 36-inch-wide line would connect to a line in southeast Michigan that goes into Canada. The company has said it expects to have major Ohio and Michigan companies hook into the line along the way.
It is seeking 150-foot-wide easements during construction and 60 feet wide during operations, the law firm said.
Area township, county, and regional boards, as well as school, public health, and park officials, have expressed concerns about the proposed site of a compressor station in Waterville Township, citing an explosion risk.
NEXUS, which has promised safe operations, wants to build the compressor station on Moosman Drive near Neapolis-Waterville Road and State Rt. 24 to help move natural gas.
In a Nov. 20 request, NEXUS told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission it wants a permit to let it survey and potentially put its pipeline through private property, where it has been unable to negotiate a deal from landowners.
If the permit is granted, it would be allowed to use eminent domain laws that came in after the Natural Gas Act of 1938 established FERC’s predecessor, the Federal Power Commission.
But Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney representing several area landowners who oppose the NEXUS project, said NEXUS’ apparent interest in using a “quick-take” provision is even more controversial than traditional eminent domain itself. It would allow the company to post money upfront and settle with landowners later, with landowners often getting less money, Mr. Lodge said.
He said he has clients in Erie and Fulton counties who have been approached by NEXUS about the potential of a “quick-take” option being used if they don’t cooperate.
“It’s a great psychological warfare tool,” Mr. Lodge said
Activist-landowner Paul Wohlfarth said he believes NEXUS wants to “abuse eminent domain laws and steal property from Americans.”
Arthur C. Diestel, NEXUS spokesman, said the company does not comment in detail about legal filings, but called allegations filed in a Dec. 10 motion by Goldman & Braunstein “baseless and misleading.”
“As it has for over a year, NEXUS continues to negotiate with landowners to obtain voluntary survey access and easement agreements as the project works toward obtaining its FERC certificate later this year and commencing construction in 2017,” Mr. Diestel said in a statement.
He cited 11 agreements that NEXUS has to provide natural gas in Ohio, including the Erie County Industrial Park, Dominion East Ohio in Erie County, Columbia Gas of Ohio in Sandusky County, Waterville Gas and Oil Co. in Lucas County, and Ohio Gas Co. in Fulton County.