Landowners who might be affected by the proposed ET Rover natural gas pipeline through southwestern Seneca County met with a law firm Wednesday evening to learn about their rights in negotiating easements.
About 100 people attended the meeting at St. Joseph’s Activity Center sponsored by Goldman and Braunstein law firm in Columbus. Goldman and Braunstein has had advertisements in The A-T urging people to not sign a gas easement without consulting the firm
“We represent only people who want to be respected,” said attorney Michael Braunstein. “That’s why we’re here and that’s why we do what we do.”
He said the firm specializes in negotiating an easement that is fair to landowners and protects the present and future value of the property.
According to information from the law firm, the proposed project would run 600 miles of 24-, 36- or 42-inch natural gas pipeline from processing facilities in the Marcellus and Utica shale areas to markets in the United States and Canada by the end of 2016.
Braunstein said surveying is underway and land acquisition is scheduled to begin soon.
In addition to Seneca County, Ohio counties affected would be Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Wood, Hancock, Crawford, Richland, Ashland, Wayne, Stark and Carroll counties.
He said no specific route has been finalized.
“We do know they have a route in mind,” he said. “We know by the end of the year, they intend to make it a formal filing.”
Even people ultimately not affected by the Rover pipeline should be aware of how to react if they are approached in the future.
“There are so many pipelines coming through Ohio, it is good to know how to respond,” he said. “This is an energy corridor.”
A major point landowners should consider is how a pipeline affects the value of their property.
“An easement should permit landowners to do what they do without interference and also permit the future development of that land, even if that’s not something you intend to do,” he said.
An easement spells out land access rights, placement of utility lines, how drainage tiles are to be replaced and every other aspect of construction and ongoing use.
“All these provisions have to be put in the easement,” Braunstein said.
The firm represents 104 landowners affected by the Sunoco pipeline being replaced through 42 miles of the county, said William Goldman, another partner in the law firm.
“Sunoco, is some cases, is not living up to their promises regarding repair of drainage tile,” he said. “We stay involved until construction is complete and until Sunoco fixes problems, or in your case Rover.”
Some examples of problems might be wet spots where tile was not replaced properly or graded improperly.
“We don’t do the work,” Braunstein said. “We can’t guarantee it’ll be done right the first time, but we’ll keep after them until it’s done right.”
Braunstein said the pipeline for this area is proposed to be large.
“In this area, a 42-inch pipeline, and possibly more than one pipeline,” he said. “A 42-inch pipeline is more than 12 times bigger than the 12-inch pipeline Sunoco is putting in. You’re talking about trench that is about 10 feet deep. You’re talking about a major disruption in your property.”
In addition to being paid for use of the land where the pipeline runs, Braunstein said landowners can be compensated for loss of land value.
“It will be adversely affected by the fact that there is an easement,” he said. “Even though the easement doesn’t touch the house, it affects its value.”
For example, he said if a home’s value is $200,000, the value might go down to $100,000 with an easement, and landowners can negotiate to receive the $100,000 in potential lost value.
The firm’s fee is based on the amount of money negotiated over the company’s initial offer.
Goldman said the company has a right to go on property to conduct surveys, but landowners can determine the timing.
“You have a right to set the time,” he said. “If you’re in the middle of planting or in the middle of harvest, you can put it off.”
Landowners should take pictures of the equipment used to conduct surveys, and pictures of any damage to the land.
Find a map of the proposed route at: