Judge extends restraining order for NEXUS surveyors

A 14-day extension was granted last Wednesday for a restraining order on property owners in Lorain County who have denied NEXUS gas transmission workers on their land.

The original restraining order was issued July 15 to owners in Oberlin, Grafton, and LaGrange who denied surveyors on five properties.

The extension was approved after Thomas Podulka of Grafton and Donald Piwinski of LaGrange refused surveyors on their land again even though they were aware the court issued the order, according to court documents.

Local sisters Kristin McDonough and Karen Fridenstine have refused to let workers on their land on Baird Road. They were also required to let surveyors on the property after the judge issued the restraining order.

Fridenstine said she is not sure whether workers have been on the property since the July 15 ruling.

The proposed NEXUS gas transmission pipeline is expected to pass through Oberlin’s southern border near Reserve Avenue.

It’s a 36-inch pipe that’s expected to carry 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to lines servicing Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Canada.

NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel said in an email that NEXUS only seeks the assistance of the courts as a last resort if cooperative negotiations are unsuccessful.

“Surveys are necessary to obtain field data to assess pipeline alignments for constructability and environmental impacts,” he said. “These surveys are necessary to obtain important information for the federal and state agencies that are reviewing the environmental impacts of the project.”

Diestel said the majority of the proposed study corridor in Lorain County has been surveyed and workers are still conducting surveys in other parts of the state.

“We are feeling, the defendants, that our civil rights have been violated due to the fact that we have to this day yet to present or be heard or have representation or be seen by the court,” she said. However, the court is making a decision without letting the owners speak.

“I feel violated,” Fridenstine said. “I’m frustrated. People have the right to be heard and be represented in court.”

A Lorain County sheriff’s deputy is expected to accompany NEXUS workers to Podulka and Piwinski’s property to enforce the restraining order.

The property owners were expected to have a preliminary injunction hearing last Friday but it was postponed because not all of the land had been surveyed yet.

“Is it too late to make this right?” Fridenstine wrote in a letter to the judge.

She hopes to have a chance to speak in court at her hearing at 9 a.m. Aug. 12.

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