About 1,000 Wintergreen property owners ready for Atlantic Coast Pipeline lawsuits

Pipeline awaiting approval from the VDEQ to begin construction

NELSON COUNTY, Va. – Homeowners and businesses in the path of a planned natural gas pipeline are gearing up for a series of lawsuits. About 1,000 homeowners at Wintergreen resort said they will sue the Atlantic Coast Pipeline if it begins work without compensation on land they communally own. Meanwhile, if those homeowners don't comply with the company's eminent domain order, the pipeline will sue them.

10 News talked with one small business owner there who has already been sued by the company twice and is ready to go to court again. At the foot of Wintergreen mountain sits a replica German village ready to house visitors.

"This was our dream of building our own bed and breakfast and having it in a beautiful location," William Fenton said.

Fenton spent more than three years and most of his savings on what he thought would be a perfect business plan.

"It seemed like a pretty idyllic spot. It seemed like the last place that you would expect industrial industry coming and drilling a big hole," Fenton said.

Right now, plans from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have it going through Wintergreen mountain and across Fenton's property. He and several other property owners have already been to court and lost trying to keep surveyors off their land.

"They've spent millions of dollars fighting these things, so all these people are not doing that just to be annoying to Dominion, they're doing it because they see this pipeline as costing them millions of dollars also," Fenton said.

Dominion Energy is one of the partner companies of Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted the pipeline a permit to begin construction. Now the company just needs approval from Virginia.

"Once that happens then that's the last road block for Dominion and they can start work," said John Clayman with the Wintergreen Property Owners Association.

Clayman said the association plans to be a road block itself. He said it will refuse to give up its land willingly, forcing the pipeline to take it to court.

"That's Dominion suing us, the association, and at the same time each individual owner will be suing Dominion, so it's going to be a legal fest," Clayman said.

Clayman said about 1,000 landowners are planning to sue one day after the pipeline begins work on their land.

"They have a right of enjoyment, and it's written into their deeds, and their right of enjoyment is being impacted," Clayman said.

Meanwhile, Fenton said he's ready to see the paperwork show up at his idyllic village for a third time.

"We're going to be sued by Dominion so our suit will be in federal court," Fenton said.

A suit Fenton said he and thousands of others will eagerly engage in to protect their property rights, their money and their right to enjoyment.

10 News reached out to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline media contact, but did not receive an immediate response to our inquiry.

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