Chester co. eminent domain fight

March 16, 2009 5:20:22 PM PDT
In Chester County, it's a fight over eminent domain between 36 homeowners and a natural gas company.

The plan is to replace a 50-year-old natural gas pipeline that goes through Chester County. The problem is that when the pipeline was built back in the early 1950's this was all farms and forests now it's East Caln Township.

"I just can't accept their unreasonable attitude", said Lou Ottaviano.

Lou is one of the neighbors fighting the Williams Transco Company's proposal. That's primarily because the plan puts a new, larger pipeline right through his property not 10 feet away from his garage. And Lou says that while the company says it's willing to discuss options, he already received legal papers claiming eminent domain over his property.

"That's putting a gun and saying 'let's talk' I have a hard time talking with a gun to my head."

Neighbors are also concerned about the environmental impact since the plan cuts right through several streams and calls for the removal of hundreds of trees.

"There has to be a better way than just to come back every time they need to expand the pipeline just to take more and more and more land," said Joe Delaney.

But Williams Transco Company officials say they have no choice. They say the existing pipe may soon pose a safety risk because it's old and deteriorating.

In a statement sent to Action News a company spokesperson wrote, With our construction schedule tightening, we have reached a point in the... process where the federal courts must be engaged to assist in acquiring easements.

36 property owners in this part of Chester County are affected by this whole thing but so far only about half have given their consent. The rest will likely soon receive eminent domain notices since construction will begin May 15th.

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