ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – Franklin County considered leasing county-owned land to the Mountain Valley Pipeline for storage space, but after a heated public hearing Tuesday night, county leaders decided against it.
A tie vote by the Franklin County Board of Supervisors stopped the leasing of county land for a Mountain Valley Pipeline storage yard. But the vote did not come without a lot of drama at the meeting.
Speaking out of turn and just plain walking out of the meeting were two parts of the heated story line in Franklin County Tuesday night. The tension was over the potential leasing of an unused 10 acres of land in the business park to the Mountain Valley Pipeline for use as a storage yard.
"They were going to have to put in rock that would've been a benefit to the county to have the rock on those ten acres if a business came to it," Franklin County Board of Supervisors Chairman Cline Brubaker said. "And they don't want to do it."
One board member abstained from voting which lead to a deadlocked 3-3 vote killing the lease.
"It's a small victory in a huge battle and we will continue on fighting," Franklin County Board of Supervisors member Mike Carter said. "I answer to the citizens of Franklin County, not to the board of supervisors."
Unlike other counties in our area, Franklin County has insisted the pipeline project is a federal matter and there's nothing county government can do. The board has stuck to what they call a neutral position, but opponents are thrilled with this victory, a first for them.
"It was totally in their hands whether they went forward with this deal or not." Franklin County resident and pipeline opponent Darlene Hines said. "Finally we were able to get at least a split vote and a decision that it was a no."
One person did speak in favor of the plan. Despite the vote, the board chairman sees this as a missed opportunity.
"Even though these people think that they represent everybody, I'm sorry, but there are a lot of people in Franklin County that aren't here," Brubaker said. "I represent all the people, not just the ones that show up at a protest."
The county is not able to stop the pipeline project from leasing land from a private landowner in the county if they choose to do so. Depending on how that land may be zoned would determine if any other public hearings or zoning requests would come before the board.