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Local News

January 2, 2014

Area tree farmer: I will no longer support pipeline

A pro-drilling Bainbridge tree farmer says he has gone from a supporter of the proposed Constitution Pipeline to a detractor after concluding his real estate value would decline and he would lose his property insurance were the transmission line to be approved.

Bruce Baxter, who raises Christmas trees on his 10-acre spread, told The Daily Star that pipeline representatives offered him a one-time $5,000 payment in return for granting an easement that would allow the developers access to the entire parcel.

Baxter, whose parents also have a tree farm in nearby Afton, said the amount being offered for the easement would cover only about half his local property tax bill for a year.

In a comment sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that will decide if the natural gas transmission line is to be constructed, Baxter outlined his reasons for turning critical after initially agreeing to allow the company to survey his land.

“I have come to the realization that they only care about the stockholders and Wall Street,” he said. He also alleged that a pipeline representative told him the company is applying for a FERC license in order to get eminent domain rights. He said the company representative, whom he only recalled as an individual from Texas, advised him the company wants to use the infrastructure as a feeder line, a classification that would not lead to the company getting eminent domain powers.

Baxter’s comments reflect the public anxiety over the pipeline project in sections of Delaware, Schoharie and Chenango counties where the 124-mile pipeline route would pass through on its way to two existing pipelines in the Schoharie County town of Wright.

While some landowners have already collected payments from the project developers in return for easement rights, many of those owning parcels along the preferred route say they resent the fact they could be forced to allow access to their their farms, woodlots and other parcels if the federal agency empowers the company to gain eminent domain authority.

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