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Dominion threatens to sue homeowners over surveying

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dominion Resources Inc. is telling property owners in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina that it’ll sue if they don’t allow surveying on their land for a proposed $5 billion natural gas pipeline.

The Richmond-based energy provider’s transmission division sent letters to more than 225 landowners regarding surveying for the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Many of the about 2,500 property owners along the route have given the company permission to survey. More than half of the Virginia landowners opposing Dominion Transmission’s request to survey on their property are in Nelson County, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“I have my land posted and would do everything within my ability to keep them from surveying my property,” Ernie Reed of Charlottesville, who owns 120 acres in Nelson, told the newspaper. “I would oppose it all and do what I can to keep it from happening.”

Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle said the warning letter is not required by state law but is an example of “how we are trying to work with the landowners so that the best route with the least impact to the environment, historic and cultural resources can be determined.”

Norvelle said surveying helps ensure the company learns about features on the property such as streams or historical structures and determines whether the land is suitable for construction. The survey also provides information required as part of the federal government’s review of the pipeline.

However, Glen Besa, director of the Sierra Club’s Virginia Chapter, which opposes the pipeline, said the threat of legal action “is a clear instance of abuse of corporate power. Dominion is the biggest bully on the block.”

The pipeline is a joint venture between Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources. Dominion expects construction will start in 2017 and the line will be in service in 2018.

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