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Federal judge to Dominion: No eminent domain for at least 90 days

Dominion has sued Marvin Winstead Jr., to begin timbering on part of his 100-year-old farm to make way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. So far, a federal judge has prohibited the company from accessing his property. (File photo: Lisa Sorg)

US District Court Judge Terence Boyle has extended a three-month stay in an eminent domain case related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a status conference last Thursday, Boyle ruled that Dominion could not seize 11 acres belonging to Marvin Winstead Jr., of Nash County until at least May 31.

Winstead has refused to allow ACP contractors to timber a portion of his land, which has been in his family for more than 100 years. Dominion took him to court last March, but Boyle ruled against the company, saying that the company had not given Winstead a reasonable opportunity to negotiate.

This is just the latest setback for Dominion and Duke, the two utilities with majority stakes in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $7.5 billion, 600-mile natural gas pipeline running from West Virginia through Virginia, eastern North Carolina and into South Carolina. Because of successful legal challenges, primarily in Virginia where the route would cross many natural areas, it is already more than a year behind schedule and $3 billion over budget.

Although tree-cutting had begun in Northampton and Cumberland counties, Dominion has voluntarily halted construction along the entire route after a federal appellate court reversed three permits that would have allowed it to cross the Appalachian Trail and other national forests in Virginia.

And in Robeson County, a Superior Court Judge could rule as early as this month in the lawsuit filed by Robbie and Dwayne Goins against the county commissioners. In that litigation, the Goins brothers sued the county commissioners, alleging they violated the law and their constitutional rights in voting to allow a metering and regulation station and a 350-foot tower to be built near their land in Prospect to support the pipeline.

 

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Federal judge to Dominion: No eminent domain for at least 90 days