Franklin County tables MVP easement proposal... for now

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FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The Franklin County Board of Supervisors tabled an easement proposal Tuesday offered by the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The easement would allow the pipeline to cross county land, including cutting directly through a new planned industrial park.

In return, the county would receive a one time payment for use of the land, plus yearly tax revenue.

The easement is the one thing that Franklin County landowners believe the Board of Supervisors can use to take a stand against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

With the decision to postpone the easement, landowners now have more time to make their case for opposition.

Barry Sink is one of the many landowners in Franklin County that, if it comes through, would see the pipeline buried out his front door.

"It's coming down through the industrial park and our front yard basically within about three hundred feet," said Barry Sink.

Barry and his wife Judy say they've let the county know their situation for months, but haven't heard back.

"My husband and I, between the two of us, have sent a total of 24 emails, all asking for a response. I've sent two letters to the editor, issued a challenge to every member of the board. No response," said Judy Sink.

The Sinks were scared Tuesday the board would turn a deaf ear again to the dozens of landowners speaking out against the pipeline, but they were happily surprised.

The board voted not to accept the easement, for now.

"Total surprise, thankful, feel very blessed that they were listening tonight," said Judy Sink.

But it may only a temporary delay.

The county says ultimately, if the project gets approved by federal regulators, there's no stopping it.

"Once they are approved for construction they will have the power of eminent domain, and then they will just be making offers," said County Administrator Brent Robertson.

Barry says just that possibility has already tanked his property value.

He's actually tried to sell the land he's lived on for 35 years, but so far, no luck.

"We're literally trapped in a place where we can't get out of," said Barry Sink.

County staff will now compile all of those public comments for the board to review and a decision on the easement will likely not be made for several months.

That could give the board time to wait for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to set a final definite route and for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to make its decision whether the pipeline should even go through at all.