July 16, 2014 - It appears Bruce Downey might get to build his pole barn after all because the proposed route for a new natural gas pipeline doesn't include his land – at least for now.
Two days after a story about the Oxford Township man's concerns over the proposed Rover Pipeline appeared in the July 9 issue of the Leader, Downey said he was contacted by an ET Rover Pipeline representative and informed the pipeline is not, "at this time," proposed to cross his 10.5-acre property on Meadowbrook Ct., just north of Granger Rd.
"That's what they're saying," he said. "I'm still leery."
Downey's news was confirmed by Vicki Granado, a spokesperson for the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), parent company of ET Rover Pipeline.
"The proposed line does not run through his property," Granado wrote in a July 14 e-mail responding to questions from this reporter.
The proposed Rover project calls for nearly 600 miles of pipeline that would transport natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to various markets in the United States and, potentially, Canada.
Although Downey's been informed the proposed route calls for the Rover Pipeline to go just north of his property, he's not popping open any champagne just yet.
"Every time I talk to them, they continue to say, 'That's for now. That's proposed,'" he said.
Downey is concerned because he had received a letter from ET Rover Pipeline informing him about open houses regarding the project and inviting him to attend.
Because he already has two 30-foot easements running across his property for Enbridge's Line 6B, a crude oil pipeline, and the Rover Pipeline is proposed to run parallel to Line 6B in some parts, Downey is concerned about potentially having to give up more of his land for another easement.
He wants to build a pole barn for his personal storage needs and to help train hunting and rescue dogs.
Downey is worried if the Rover Pipeline comes across his land and needs a new easement, it could use up the only suitable building space he has left.
Permanent structures cannot be built within an easement (or right-of-way).
So, if the Rover Pipeline is not proposed to go through Downey's property, why did he receive a letter?
Granado explained two letters were sent out.
Property owners who live within 500 feet of the proposed route received a general notification concerning the proposed pipeline and the open houses to learn more about it.
That's why Downey got one.
"Property owners who are on the proposed route received a second letter from the company communicating that and asking for (permission to have their property surveyed)," she wrote.
"We cannot finalize the route until the surveys are complete," Granado continued. "There may be some changes to the route based on the surveys and the information we are getting through the open houses we are hosting . . . It is our goal to design a route that is efficient and minimizes any environmental impact."
Granado stated "the final route" will be determined "when the surveys are complete."
"If any changes are made to the proposed route, those landowners will be contacted," she wrote.
The possibility of the route changing and including his land has Downey worried. "At any minute, they could decide to change the route and come through (my) yard," he said.
He won't stop worrying "until they tell me it's absolutely not (going through my property) or until they have the definite (route and it's) not going through my property."
"I want it in writing," Downey said. "I don't trust them. I just don't. They continue to be very vague when you talk to them. Stories change depending on who you talk to . . . It's just a little shaky and a little shady, and I'm not willing to let it go until they say they're not coming through my property, flat out."
Downey said he's hoping that ETP/ET Rover Pipeline isn't just trying to "pacify" him right now, then later change the route to include his land.
"Are they just trying to shut me up and go around me? Or are they going to say (the pipeline's) going over there, then (later say), 'Oh, sorry, the soil's not right, (so) we're going to turn and come (over your property),'" he said.
Granado said the proposed route was not changed because of Downey. "We were never crossing that gentleman's land to begin with," she said. "We're in the vicinity, but we are not crossing his property."
Despite what he's been told by ETP, Downey still had a representative from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) visit his property on July 15 to check things out and listen to his concerns.
The Rover Pipeline requires approval from FERC in order to move forward.
ETP/ET Rover Pipeline held an open house July 14 in Fenton.
"We are very pleased with the number of people who (attended) tonight's open house," Granado wrote. "While I don't have an exact number, I estimate that we had nearly 400 people attend, which provided us a great opportunity to meet with landowners and answer their specific questions."
Next week, the Leader will report on the open house held July 15 in Richmond.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.