MOUNT VERNON — An informational meeting about a natural gas pipeline scheduled to go through Knox County was held Tuesday night by Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC at The Dan Emmett Conference Center.
The owners of property through which the line will be installed were invited to the meeting which was also open to the general public.
Although many in attendance were expecting a formal presentation with a question-and-answer session, the meeting was informal in nature with representatives of Kinder Morgan answering questions anyone might have. There were a number of displays with information about various aspects of the pipeline project, maps showing the proposed route of the pipeline and a PowerPoint presentation.
Allen Fore, director of community relations for KMC was one of those on hand to answer questions.
“These are informal open houses to discuss a proposed project,” he said. “There will be more opportunities in the future for people to get more detailed information. We are planning to file our application with the siting board at the end of this month when we have our final route. We are taking input tonight about issues we may not know about. But the biggest question people have when they come in is ‘Will it be on my property?’ Some people didn’t receive a letter from us because they are not in our proposed corridor but they saw something in the newspaper so they came to see what it is all about.”
Fore said the maps available show a corridor within which the pipeline would be routed. He said the exact route is yet to be determined and what was shown on the map is just a proposal for now.
Fore also addressed the question of what action KMC would take if a landowner did not agree to an easement on their property. While Fore said eminent domain did not apply in this case because KMC is not a government agency, there are provisions in the Ohio Revised Code allowing for acquisition of the property through the judicial system and the company would pursue that, if necessary.
Chapter 1723.01 of the ORC covers the appropriation of properties by certain corporations. Among other things, it does give the power to appropriate property to companies moving natural gas or liquid natural gas through tubes or pipes.
Fore did emphasize KMC wants to work with the landowners through negotiation and any court action would be a last resort to ensure the project could be completed.
According to printed information provided at the meeting, Kinder Morgan will negotiate with landowners for easements to install the pipeline. Easements will also include the right of way which will allow KMC to cross the owner’s property in order to “install, inspect, operate and maintain the pipeline equipment.”
Permanent easements, according to the documentation, are typically 40 to 50 feet in width. Land space needed will double during the construction phase.
Landowners will be compensated monetarily for the easements.
“To be fair and consistent, Kinder Morgan will offer all landowners fair market value for their easement, derived from market valuations developed by independent appraisers. In addition to easement compensation, we compensate landowners for use of temporary construction space and the loss of marketable timber and/or crops in a fair and equitable manner,” the document stated.
Tuesday’s open house drew in property owners from out of the county including Melvin Schwartzentruber of Morrow County.
“I’m just across the county line,” he said. “The line will be going through part of my farm. I’m wondering how much damage it’s going to do. If they can restore it to what it was before then I’m not too concerned. But if they are going to be working on it in the summertime when we’re working on the ground, that’s not going to help.”
Others were not happy at the answers, or lack of answers, they were getting.
Brad and Cathy Swihart were in this category.
“They’re not really telling us very much tonight,” said Cathy. “All they’ve got is the maps and they can tell you if it’s crossing your property. But they are very careful to tell you it’s all tentative so it could cross your property even if it’s not on the map. We have some pretty picturesque property so we are concerned about what it would do to our woods.”
“We called the EPA and regional planning and nobody knew anything about this,” Brad added.
According to information provided by KMC, the pipeline would be going through more of Knox County than any other county with 31.1 miles going through the county. There will be 45 road crossings, one railroad crossing and the pipeline will impact 187 tracts of land in the county.
The project’s timeline includes ongoing public participation, route selection and permit preparation. Construction is projected to start in July 2011 and a completion target of July 2012.