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According to a report published by the News Virginian, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s engineering designs to protect water quality during and after construction. The approval of the project’s stormwater management and erosion and sediment control plans took more than a year. With the approval, the state’s water quality certification will take effect, bringing the project one step closer to starting. The project’s developers will now seek authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start construction in Virginia.
As proposed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run a 600-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia, continuing south into North Carolina. In addition, a lateral would extend to Chesapeake, Virginia, while two smaller laterals would connect to Dominion Energy facilities in Greensville and Brunswick Counties.
Unsurprisingly, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s developers have used eminent domain to obtain the land they need to proceed with the project, resulting in a significant amount of litigation. Eminent domain is the government’s power to take private property, and in some states the government can authorize other parties (like energy companies) to exercise it. The government or its designees can only take private property for a public purpose, and the party taking the property must provide the landowner with just compensation.
Courts have taken an expansive view as to what constitutes a public purpose in eminent domain cases. Of course, most of us can agree that things like road construction or expansion, parks, hospitals, schools, and libraries serve clear public purposes. But what about using eminent domain to transfer land to a private party for the purpose of economic development?
According to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London, this also serves a public purpose. As a result of this expansive definition, courts uphold the vast majority of eminent domain actions as valid.
This leaves just compensation as the only issue in dispute in most eminent domain cases. Landowners need to understand that governments and authorized agents are trying to get the land they need for as little as possible. If you’re involved in an eminent domain action, you need an attorney familiar with eminent domain law to protect your rights and get you the just compensation you deserve.
If you received notice that your property is subject to eminent domain, speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The lawyers of Sever Storey are dedicated to helping landowners obtain just compensation for their properties and are not afraid to take a case to court if necessary. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (888) 318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.
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