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Proposed pipeline stirs concern, controversy in Chester County

Any proposal to build a large industrial facility is certain to stir controversy and, usually, the intensity of the controversy is directly proportional to the size of the proposed facility. At a recent public meeting, residents of Chester County stood up to express a variety of concerns about a proposed natural gas pipeline that would run hundreds of miles through southern Pennsylvania.

This property dispute is the result of landowner concerns about the Mariner 2 pipeline proposed by Sunoco Logistics. The pipeline is intended to transport mainly natural gas and related liquids from Pennsylvania's southwest corner to Marcus Hook, a Philadelphia suburb on the Delaware River. Residents are worried about getting fair compensation for their land and the pipeline's adverse impact on property values both during and after construction. Some property owners told stories of lowball offers from Sunoco that were patently unrealistic. Others expressed concerns about the disruption of their neighborhoods during construction of the pipeline.

Speakers at the hearing were not all opposed to the pipeline. Some defended Sunoco's safety record, but most were either doubtful about whether the pipeline could be constructed without substantial disruption to their lives and their neighborhoods or were in outright opposition to the project. Some residents alleged that Sunoco had threatened to use the power of eminent domain to acquire land, and a residents' group known as the Clean Air Council has sued Sunoco for falsely claiming that it possesses this power.

For its part, Sunoco is keeping a low profile due to the lawsuit. It did not attend the hearing but released a statement that said it has "actively engaged in and participated in dozens of municipal meetings" concerning Mariner 2.

A landowners whose land is the target of a pipeline, new highway or other public facility often benefits from retaining a lawyer who specializes in zoning and eminent domain cases. A knowledgeable lawyer can help retain necessary experts, such as property appraisers, devise legal strategies to maximize the land's value and provide advice as the process moves forward.

Source: CBS Philly, "Community Forum Held On Proposed Pipeline Project In Chester County," Diana Rocco, Sep. 29, 2015

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