Counties taking different approaches to pipeline surveying calls

By Rob Manch - Reporter
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FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Over the past several weeks, surveyors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been working on private properties gathering information on the proposed route.

Some of the landowners have put up opposition, but we're now learning that to get surveyors to leave might be harder or easier depending on which county you live in.

In Franklin County, surveyors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline are just starting to show up on people's properties, but one of them WSLS spoke with, Carolyn Reilly, says when she called the Sheriff's Department, deputies made the survey team leave.

Reilly filmed her encounter with the survey team Tuesday.

She and her husband immediately told the crew of 14 to leave.

"They told my husband we will wait for the law to tell us to leave," said Reilly.

Reilly says that's exactly what happened.

"The Sheriff's Department told them you will need a court order to enter their property," said Reilly.

Dozens of landowners just like Reilly in Franklin came out Wednesday to voice their opposition to the pipeline to federal regulators.

But right now, those landowners have a better shot of keeping surveyors at bay than their counterparts just across the border in Roanoke County.

A team of surveyors recently appeared on Bent Mountain last month.

Roanoke County Police say, they're doing their job lawfully.

"We're stuck with the law as it stands right now, and we certainly understand that people don't like it," said Assistant Chief Chuck Mason.

That law is Virginia statute 56-49.01.

It's constitutionality is being challenged in the Virginia Supreme Court, but the Mountain Valley Pipeline says, as of right now, it will continue surveying into Franklin County.

"Where MVP is continuing to face this objection, we are moving forward with surveying activities as permitted by the Virginia statute," said Natalie Cox with the EQT Corporation, the pipeline's parent company.

Reilly says, she doesn't agree the surveying is legal, and will continue to call the Sheriff's Department every time she sees it.

"They're a Deleware LLC, they're not a Virginia public corporation, so we do not feel that they have the legal right to be on our property," said Reilly.

WSLS also spoke with the Pittsylvania Sheriff's Department, another county along the pipeline route that will likely be the next stop for surveyors.

The department says it currently doesn't have a formal policy surrounding surveying, and it's something, like many other counties in Virginia, it plans to address on a case by case basis.

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