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Posted December 5, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Judge allows Columbia land grab for gas line

By Alex Bridges

A federal judge on Tuesday granted Columbia Gas immediate access to land in Warren County for a transmission line to land that will eventually house a Dominion power plant.

Columbia Gas Transmission sought condemnation of an easement for the natural gas line through property owned by Cedarville, LLC. A condemnation complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg indicated the parties could not reach an agreement on the amount of compensation owed to Cedarville by the utility provider.

U.S. Judge Michael F. Urbanski on Tuesday entered an order granting Columbia's motion for partial summary judgment. The judge granted Columbia immediate possession and rights of access to the property owned by Cedarville so the utility can commence construction of the transmission line.

The defendant did not object to the judge's granting of the motion. By agreement of the parties involved, Columbia can take possession of the property and commence construction without having to post a bond, according to the order. Columbia stated in a brief in support of the motion that no dispute exists as to the utility's authority to take the property.

Urbanski left the case open for a decision on the amount of compensation Columbia Gas should pay Cedarville for condemnation of the easement.

The complaint also named Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and E.I. DuPont de Nemours since the entities also own land needed for the transmission line. Columbia reached agreements with both entities shortly thereafter.

Cedarville continued to fight Columbia's efforts to acquire the property and in court filings argued the utility had not provided information indicating the owner would receive adequate compensation for the land.

Warrenton attorney Merle W. Fallon represents Cedarville. Travis A. Sabalewski and Justin M. Sizemore, of Richmond, represent Columbia Gas.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Columbia on March 20, pursuant to the Natural Gas Act. The certificate authorized Columbia to build and operate a 24-inch natural gas pipeline, extending for 2.47 miles, and the related facilities, to transport gas to the new power generation plant currently under construction.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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