Franklin County, VA Landowners Use Sheriff to Eject MVP Surveyors

In May, MDN noted a disturbing trend in the Commonwealth of Virginia of entangling law enforcement in the non-criminal issue of surveying for a federally-authorized pipeline project (see VA Landowner Uses State Police to Eject Pipeline Surveyors). A small minority of landowners continues to use (we’d call it abuse) local law enforcement in their zeal to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. Under Virginia State law, surveyors may enter a property without the property owner’s express permission to survey, as long as they have sent a prior notice to the landowner with target dates of when they will be on location. Some landowners, knowing the surveyors are coming, call in the cops to pressure the surveyors to leave. And the cops play along. Not a good situation. What typically happens is that the surveyors will leave and subsequently file for a court order of eminent domain, forcing the property owner to later allow the surveyors on their property. It’s a SURVEY for goodness sake! It’s a couple of guys (or girls) walking across the property, using a transit to figure out if/where the best route would go. Landowners are far better off working WITH surveyors to convey their wishes–“I’d prefer you’d leave that area alone”–rather than being obstructionists. But such is the uncivil world we now live in. We have another abuse of cops to eject surveyors, this one involves landowners in Franklin County, VA who called the Franklin County Sheriff’s office to order the surveyors off their property. No worries, the surveyors will be back in a few days with a court order in hand…

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