Judge rules in favor of NEXUS surveyors

A restraining order was issued last Wednesday for two local property owners who refuse to allow NEXUS gas transmission line surveyors onto their land.

Owners in Oberlin, Grafton, and LaGrange have denied workers access to survey five properties in Lorain County.

Local sisters Karen Fridenstine and Kristin McDonough own land on Baird Road and barred pipeline surveyors until the judge ruled that they must allow Spectra Energy workers on the property.

Workers have until next Wednesday to survey the land.

A proposed 250-mile NEXUS gas transmission pipeline is expected to pass through Oberlin’s southern border near Reserve Avenue and the Pittsfield Township line.

The 36-inch pipeline is expected to carry 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to lines servicing Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Canada.

Fridenstine said she received absolutely nothing in writing to warn her the ruling was coming.

“All of my rights of due process were violated,” she said. “(The judge) stated that the law did not require us to have notification.”

The resident has received three letters from Spectra, each including a form to allow workers to survey the land.

A lawsuit states Spectra has surveyed 108 properties in Lorain County but workers have been denied access to the remaining five in the county.

“After the defendants denied permission, NEXUS representative visited each of the properties in-person to ask the defendant landowners for permission to enter their property to conduct survey activities,” the suit states. “NEXUS is voluntarily seeking permission to enter the property even though it has the statutory right to enter the property without landowner consent.”

The suit states Spectra will not be able to provide important survey information to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to complete its application if workers do not survey the reaming five parcels and it would delay their expected in-service date of November 2017.

Now Fridenstine is worried she has no recourse to fight the construction of the pipeline across her property. She is unsure whether Spectra surveyors have been on her land since the ruling and if they have, “There’s no way to undo it,” she said.

Fridenstine said she is extremely disappointed in the judge’s decision and the fact that the possible dangers of the pipeline have not been evaluated.

“It can affect Oberlin and out as far as the (Lorain County) Joint Vocational School,” she said. “I’m very, very concerned. I don’t know what else to do but argue it.”

The lawsuit states the survey is conducted in a 600-foot-wide study corridor where the pipeline is expected to be installed. The survey is expected to identify and minimize the effect of the gas line on the environment, cultural resources, and landowners.

A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled at 1:30 p.m. July 30 for the five property owners.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.