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Reporter's Notebook

February 2, 2013

Trepidation flows through pipeline that exists only on maps


This week, after The Daily Star reported some Davenport residents were alleging pipeline surveyors came onto their property against their wishes, Valente said he sympathizes the landowners who found out less than two months ago that their property is on the pipeline’s pathway. Those notifications weren’t made until after the completion of a series of four public forums organized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that will decide if the pipeline is to be built or not.

A spokesman for the pipeline company, Christopher Stockton, said the surveyors accused by several homeowners of trespassing had the permission of a landowner who has co-title to the private road in question. He said the company does respect the right of landowners to deny permission to the surveyors. If they ended up on property where they didn’t belong, he suggested, it might have been because of the snowfall that covered the ground on the day they were confronted by the homeowners.

According to Valente, the people who got the late notifications live along a 1.4-mile stretch that ended up on the newly revised primary route for the natural gas transmission system. The earlier incarnation of the route, he said, had been to the south, in the Gulf Road area. He said he figures the pipeline planners made the change in order to avoid impacting two other towns — Kortright and Meredith.

Valente’s advice for homeowners to grant access to pipeline surveyors stands in contrast to the position of the grassroots opposition group called Stop the Pipeline. It has urged land owners to refuse access and to rescind their permission if they have already granted it.

Anne Marie Garti of East Meredith, one of the group’s organizers, said FERC requires the pipeline planners to keep the agency updated once a month on how many land owners along the pathway are allowing the surveys and how many are denying access.

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