Pine trees, home sites, and pipeline rights of way –Tim Bland to FERC

Comment on FERC docket PF14-1 16 October 2013. Yes, if this pipeline is so safe and desirable, why can’t it go in public road rights of way? -jsq

Tim Bland, Valdosta, GA.

I am writing in regard to the construction of a new natural gas pipeline by Sable Trails/Spectra Energy, Docket #PF14-1. This proposed line will run right through the middle of my property located at 4801 Gary Lane in Valdosta, Georgia. The majority of the land that will be affected is planted in pine trees, which we use for the harvest and sale of pine straw and eventually the sale of the timber itself. Looking long-term, as a supplement for retirement, we have also considered subdividing this land into 5-acre tracks to sell for home sites.

South Georgia Natural Gas Company pipeline in south Lowndes County Georgia Sable trails is demanding that we sell them a 100′ easement right in the middle of this property, directly adjacent to an existing 50′ gas line easement owned by South Georgia Natural Gas. This will make 150′ right in the middle of our property that we will no longer be able to use for straw and timber harvesting. In addition, because of the route this line takes through our property, it will render this property useless for future home sites. This pipeline will have a direct negative affect on the income earning potential of this property for straw harvesting over the next 25-30 years as well at the long-term earning potential of timber harvesting and sale for home sites.

As I understand it, South Georgia Natural Gas bid on this pipeline project with intentions to place the new line within their existing easement. However they were out bid and now refuse to allow Sable Trails/Spectra to utilize the existing easement. Because of this, we are now being threatened and bullied by Sable Trail in their efforts to secure an easement for this new pipeline. They seem very fond of reminding us that they have rights to imminent domain and that if we do not cooperate they will just take our land. While I understand the need for imminent domain laws, I believe that every other option should be considered before forcing a person to give up rights to the property that they have worked hard to earn. That being said, I have a few alternate proposals for the placement of this new pipeline that I would like to be taken into consideration.

The first proposal involves the existing gas line easement. South Georgia Natural Gas Company has an existing pipeline and 50′ easement that Sable Trail/Spectra is attempting to parallel. There is one 10” pipeline within this easement. That leaves 24′ of easement on either side of the existing pipeline that is not being utilized. If the government can force me to give up the rights to my own property for the construction of a new pipeline through imminent domain, I fail to see why South Georgia Natural Gas cannot be forced to allow the new pipeline to be placed on their existing easement. My property is used to provide income for my family and pay taxes to the government in the form of income taxes and property taxes, so I fail to see how it is any less valuable than the easement owned by South Georgia Natural Gas. I already pay property taxes on the 50′ easement that South Georgia Natural Gas uses. Now I will be expected to pay taxes on an additional 100′ that I will not be allowed to use as I see fit. I fail to see how that is fair to me or any of the other landowners affected by this pipeline. The existing easement is not being fully utilized so I would like to propose that the FERC require that the new pipeline be placed on the existing easement. This would minimize the impact to not only me, but to the other landowners along the proposed route.

My second proposal is an alternate route. There are many miles of existing public right-of-ways between the proposed gas line’s point of origin in Alabama and its end, around the Orlando, Florida area. Other utilities are required to place their facilities along public roads, US highways, and interstate highways due to the fact that they are not allowed to utilize imminent domain laws. I do not believe that Sable Trails/Spectra should be any different. This new pipeline could be placed along existing roadways for the entire length of its route, virtually eliminating the impact to private land owners. I realize that this would not, in most cases, be the most direct route. I also realize that this would increase placement costs for Sable Trails/Spectra. However, I do not feel that their profitability and bottom line costs should considered more important than my own or that of other affected landowners.

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