(One can only pray Dominion builds pipelines better than it conducts public relations – promoted by lowkell)
After we reported here on Blue Virginia this week Dominion had sued Sheriff David Brooks and his cancer stricken wife, Sherri, Charlottesville’s Channel 19 interviewed the Brooks and the piece aired Thursday night. Oddly, on Friday Dominion sent out a statement to some media outlets saying they had given their attorneys, McGuire Woods, incorrect maps. The firm used the incorrect maps as the basis to file lawsuits against Virginia landowners who have refused to allow Dominion onto their properties to survey for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. A total of 59 lawsuits were filed in Nelson County as of January 9th.
Free Nelson, a grassroots anti-pipeline group in Nelson, had run two human interest posts on its Facebook page early last week, one on the Brooks being sued, and a second about another landowner, Pearl Miles, who had also been sued by Dominion. Free Nelson learned during the Dominion Open House Wednesday night, landowner Pearl Miles had been told by Dominion her property was no longer in the proposed path of the pipeline. They also told Mrs. Miles the suit against her was being withdrawn and she would be receiving a confirmation letter from Dominion outlining those facts. She was not told she was sued in error.
A statement released Friday by Jim Norvelle, Dominion’s Communication Director announces:
“We have identified 14 landowners in Nelson County whose properties were on the original proposed route, but were removed by a reroute that occurred in October. However, the maps were not updated in a timely fashion. We are working to understand how that happened so it won’t happen again. The reroute has removed the Brooks’s property from consideration; their property is no longer on the proposed route. Obviously, we are also dropping the lawsuit against them.
The incorrect maps were used in preparing the lawsuits. We are removing the 14 landowners, including the Brookses, from the list of lawsuits and apologizing to them for our mistake. While the lawsuits had been filed with the Nelson County Circuit Court clerk, they had not yet been served. Nevertheless, we are notifying them that their properties have been removed from the proposed route.”
Mrs. Brooks stated, “They must have apologized silently to themselves because we have NOT heard from Dominion. We got this information from Rachel Ryan at Channel 19. We still oppose the pipeline and Dominion trying to take over our neighbor’s property. We are still going to fight Dominion.”
Dominion’s statement that “though the suits had been filed, they hadn’t been served” illustrates its continued callousness toward the people who have the most at stake. These lawsuits were filed and are a matter of public record. In small, rural communities everyone knows when these suits are filed and against whom.
The community is in an uproar over this Dominion fiasco. Landowners are asking if Dominion should be required to hold another open house since its maps were obviously incorrect. Dominion’s private process servers are showing up to serve its lawsuits at rural homes at 9 o’clock pm, in pitch black dark, frightening families when parents are getting their children ready for bed. Heidi Cochran, another landowner being sued posted: “Hard to believe they just now realized they had the wrong maps. Wonder how often mistakes are made that they don’t realize until too late. They need to realize this pipeline is a mistake.”
Nelsonian Matt Dwyer who is not on the proposed route (at least the routes Nelson has been shown, posted) says “Great example of the prospect/possibility of the pipeline being on ANYONE’s property…my home is presently miles away…but only for the stroke of a pen? I’m going to continue to react as if it were on my land….” Others in the community point to this error, the 3 pipeline accidents Dominion and/or its partnerships have been involved in since October 2, 2014, and the fines levied by West Virginia for Dominion’s failure to prevent the pollution of 17 streams when it constructed a pipeline there, as clear and valid reasons to question Dominion’s ability to safely, effectively take on construction of a 550-mile, 42″ pipeline. Others still question how it could take over 2 months for someone at Dominion to sit at a computer and redraw a line, claiming Dominion is obviously incompetent or it is bowing to the bad press surrounding its suit of the Sheriff of Nelson County and his ill wife.
One would expect if Dominion can make such heroic efforts to serve landowners with the lawsuits, it could do as well for the families they sued in error. Only two of the 14 families now know they aren’t being sued. The others are still talking to and hiring attorneys to defend themselves against Goliath! When might Goliath let the 12 Davids know they were sued in error? That’s anybody’s guess. Other than Dominion’s.