(Nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice. Please contact a lawyer to review your case and determine when legal intervention is needed. Not sure where to start? See thoughts to consider below, and Contact MassPLAN for advice. )
» How to Use FERC’s website to Comment and/or Intervene
» DPU Information
» See Articles on Landowner Issues
DENYING PERMISSION TO SURVEY:
LETTERS FOR LANDOWNERS
Below are the landowner letters that can be printed, filled out, signed and handed directly to surveyors when they arrive at your property. Also send a copy via certified mail and don’t forget to send one to FERC, your local Planning Board and your local police department (if TGP tries to enter your land anyway, it can be handy for local police to have a copy on hand when they come to move them along).
YOU SHOULD NOT BE APPROACHED FOR SURVEY OR HAVE TGP’s HIRED SURVEYORS ENTER YOUR PROPERTY IF YOU’VE DENIED PERMISSION. If so, tell them no and contact the legal team at firstname.lastname@example.org
NED-Specific Letters for Landowners:
» Basic Letter Rescinding Permission To Survey – word.doc
» Basic Letter Rescinding Permission To Survey – PDF
Another approach has been used, wherein you send a letter to the company (either denying or rescinding permission), and enumerate reasons that you are taking this action, and send copies of your letter (either by email or regular mail) to your local, state, and federal elected officials so they know that you are against the pipeline. Here is a sample:
LETTERS FOR TOWN OFFICIALS TO DENY PERMISSION
In light of TGP’s decision to forgo the DPU process to get onto land for which permission has been denied, they’ve decided to start surveying where they do have permission, including on public roadways. After checking with our legal team, we’ve found that town-owned roads (not state highways) are indeed town property, and a denial of permission to survey issued by the town should prevent them from legally surveying on town roadways.
Given the imminent nature of the survey schedule, concerned citizens are urged to get their Board of Selectmen or City Council to sign the denial of permission to survey letter below and email it in to TGP’s Right of Way Agent, Jim Hartman – email@example.com , then send a paper copy by certified mail.
NED-Specific letters for town / city officials
» Board of Selectmen Denial of Permission to Survey – word.doc
» Board of Selectmen Denial of Permission to Survey – PDF
» Board of Selectmen Rescind Permission to Survey – word.doc
» Board of Selectmen Rescind Permission to Survey – PDF
» City Council Rescind Permission to Survey – word.doc
» City Council Rescind Permission to Survey – PDF
• What to do with TGP Survey Request letters
Letters like »these are released periodically from TGP, hoping to get more people to change their mind and agree. Remember, denying them permission to survey does not affect your ability to negotiate if it comes to eminent domain proceedings later (which is at least a year and a Certificate approval away).
It is important to respond by denying permission to survey, at some point during the process, by using the letter above. If you’ve never responded to their requests, they can argue that they’ve tried to reach you and never heard back. They did this in 2013 to get the MA DPU to give them access to one person’s land. ( » Read the DPU’s ruling. ) Once you have sent the Deny Permission letter to TGP, you should not need to send another for each request they make.
Some have simply written “REFUSED” on subsequent letters and sent them back, others have found »more creative ways to fill out the consent form, and returned them to TGP AND filed them on the FERC Docket. You also can just not respond if you’ve already sent the Deny Permission to Survey letter.
» Pipeline Safety Trust’s “Landowner’s Guide to Pipelines”
» Carolyn Elefant – Knowing and Protecting Your Rights
FOR LANDOWNERS AND TOWNS TO CONSIDER:
Q: Are landowners and towns paid to have the pipeline run through their property?
Compensation for Landowners:
The question is, how much are they paid vs. the costs incurred by risk, potential environmental damage, pollution and loss of property value. Though no deals have been made for this pipeline yet, a rule of thumb calculation for prices usually paid, according to Atty. Jay Duffy, is $1 x inches of diameter of pipe x ft. through your property. So if the pipeline crosses a large property the wide way, your compensation is much higher than if they just nick a corner of it.
On one property, for instance, it only crosses 50 ft. of the property, so the compensation would be $1×36″x50ft = $1,800. That’s a one-time payment. The same property has a Fannie Mae mortgage, which specifically forbids storage of hazardous or explosive materials, criteria that the pipeline meets. So yes, she may be paid $1,800 to have the pipeline on her property, but by negotiating with the pipeline company and allowing it, she would be negating the terms of her mortgage, and would have to pay off the balance immediately.
Even if you have a substantial crossing of your property, say 3,000 ft. resulting in $108,000, how much is your property worth? If it becomes unsellable in the market, would this compensation make up for it? If the value of your equity drops even 10% is this enough to make up for it? Will your insurance and/or mortgage agreements be voided? With a blast radius of 900-1,000 ft. on either side of the pipeline, will you feel that you or your property are safe?
Compensation for Towns:
What towns needs to keep in mind if they’re offered compensation is how does is balance with a drop in property values (Forensics Appraisal Group records 10-30% drop nationwide when a pipeline crosses a property), and if the amount being paid to the town will help when something like this happens.
The initial tax payment offers from pipeline companies often look lucrative, but abatement for depreciation is often sought starting in the second year, and sometimes it can be substantial.
When considering how much the town should be compensated, it’s important to keep public safety and emergency response expenses in mind.
Sissonville, WV explosion of 20″ diameter gas transmission line. BTW – this pipeline is less than 1/3 the volume that NED would be.
There are several of explosions like this a year on average [about one “signficant incindent” on gas transmission lines a week (not necessarily on this scale)], so though kind of rare, it’s not unreasonable to consider from a safety perspective.