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October 31, 2013

Pipeline foes are creating response team|

(Continued)

“Constitution Pipeline Company is committed to dealing fairly with each landowner and treating all landowners with respect and honor their decision with regard to granting survey permission,” Stockton said. “It remains our strict policy to only survey on properties where we have obtained permission from the landowner.”

The company needs to acquire easements along the proposed path in order to construct the 124-mile transmission line. If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorizes the project, it would confer eminent domain power to the company, giving it the potential authority to gain the easements even if landowners rejected survey requests and signaled they do not want the pipeline cutting through their property.

Stockton said the company began the easement acquisition process in March, noting it is “currently ongoing.”

“We are currently making offers that are in excess of the appraised easement value,” he said.

Those values, he said, are determined by “local third parties” who have expertise in the local real estate market and are retained by his company.

The concerns being generated among landowners regarding the proposed easements have attracted representatives of two law firms to schedule what they are billing as “an informational meeting” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel, Susquehanna Board Room, located at 116 Courtyard Drive, Oneonta.

One of the firms, Biersdorf & Associates, described itself in a press release as “a nationwide eminent domain law firm that only represents property owners.”

“Our firm is speaking with affected property owners who are concerned about upcoming deadlines for acceptance of ‘premium’ offers,” the Biersdorf firm said in the release. “There is also concern amongst property owners regarding the amount of compensation being offered, their rights in the process, and questions regarding the eminent domain process.”

Dan Biersdorf of the Biersdorf firm and Jon Santemma of the law firm Farrell Fritz, P.C., the co-author of the textbook “Condemnation Law in New York,” will facilitate the public meeting to discuss the easement valuation process and how this compares to offers made by Williams. They are also expected to provide information on the eminent-domain process in New York, and discuss the costs of pursuing a claim.

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