Neighbors fight Piedmont on planned pipeline project - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Neighbors fight Piedmont on planned pipeline project


Piedmont Natural Gas is scheduled to break ground in a few months on a new natural gas pipeline that would cut through the Radnor Lake State Natural Area.

The pipeline would also go through hundreds of private properties, and a number of homeowners are now in the middle of a legal fight over their land.

For more than 30 years, Marvin Fisher's family has owned the same Nashville home, but now his children's play area and part of his driveway are in jeopardy.

"It's horrible. It's horrible," Fisher said.

Piedmont wants to put a new 20-inch pipeline right through Fisher's backyard.

"They will just take down my fence and my whole yard and cut off access to the creek," Fisher said.

Fisher was told construction would last about a year, and attorneys for the utility company offered Fisher compensation for his land.

But he said it wasn't enough.

"They offered me a little extra because of my landscapes and my fence," Fisher said. "But, still, they were only offering me $1,000 for my land and for me to not have a driveway or a backyard."

The proposed gas line will follow an existing Tennessee Valley Authority easement and cut through more than 200 properties.

Piedmont's offers to homeowners vary in price, and attorney Jason Holleman represents more than three dozen of the families.

He said they couldn't reach a deal, so Piedmont filed lawsuits to take clients' land.

"This is not something the property owners asked to have happen to their property, and this is going to be something they have to deal with for many months. And it has a real financial impact on their lives and on their property," Holleman said.

David Trusty, a spokesman for Piedmont, said this is a unique and rare situation for the company.

"For us, they are by far the last resort, if you will, because we certainly seek to come to an agreement without going through something like this," Trusty said.

The court system will now help those like Fisher work toward an agreement.

"To just come take my pursuit, what I've worked towards, is not going to happen here without a fight," Fisher said.

Piedmont claimed eminent domain in its lawsuits against the homeowners. Under Tennessee law, private utilities do have the right to use your property for a public purpose if you are paid a fair price.

The pipeline is set to be finished by December 2013.

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