ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The amount of money a company should have to pay owners of property in Virginia through which it is building a gas pipeline is being determined in a jury trial of a week.
Mountain Valley Pipeline used eminent domain to take part in the Terry family’s Bent Mountain property four years ago, the Roanoke Times reported. Proceedings regarding the amount of compensation began Monday in federal court in Roanoke.
The leaflet is worth $2 million, according to Joe Sherman, an attorney representing Frank Terry, his brother John Coles Terry and his sister Elizabeth Terry Reynolds. Sherman said in his opening statements that digging a trench to bury the pipeline through a scenic stretch of land and headwaters would reduce the value of the property by about a third.
“The pipeline corridor will run through this land forever,” he told the jury. “The Terrys can’t afford to compromise, and neither should you.”
Approximately half a mile of the 303-mile (487-kilometer) pipeline will cross the property. The family’s representation says the company should pay $650,000, but Mountain Valley argues a fair compensation amount is closer to $150,000.
Testimony between the two sides’ evaluators is expected during the trial – which could lead to the second jury verdict in a fair compensation case involving the pipeline. A couple were awarded $430,000 last May after they said their dream home had been changed forever by the controversial project.
Mountain Valley sued the owners of about 300 plots who refused to sell their land in 2017. Most cases have been settled, with less than a dozen still pending. The company says about 85% of landowners along the pipeline route have agreed to sell and have not been sued.
The Terrys did not give up their land without a fight. Coles Terry’s wife and daughter camped in stands of trees for more than a month in an effort to stop tree cutting when work hit Bent Mountain in the spring of 2018.
Coles Terry and Reynolds, who own other land nearby, have also had parts of their property taken by eminent domain and are expected to just have compensation lawsuits later this year.
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