Bluegrass Pipeline draws eminent domain fears; public meeting sc - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Bluegrass Pipeline draws eminent domain fears; public meeting scheduled

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A state senator and state representative have filed separate bills to prohibit Williams from using eminent domain. A state senator and state representative have filed separate bills to prohibit Williams from using eminent domain.
Sonya Unnoppet Sonya Unnoppet

NEW HAVEN, KY (WAVE) – The battle over the Bluegrass Pipeline has divided neighbors as the builder starts buying property for the proposed line.

Williams County will spend between $30 and $50 million in lump-sum payments for easements across private property in several Kentucky counties, said Tom Droege, a spokesman for the Oklahoma-based company.

While company officials have said they possess eminent domain power – something disputed by Kentucky's attorney general and others – Williams is now working with landowners, Droege said.

"In the few circumstances where the landowner did not grant us survey permission, we've respected their wishes and pursued other routes," he said.

Williams has reached deals with some landowners in nine out of 13 Kentucky counties where the proposed pipeline would run, company officials have said. They haven't publicly announced how many landowners have signed the easement agreements.

Williams has had its "land team" in the field for about three weeks and doesn't yet have representatives working on agreements in all 13 counties, Droege said.

Meanwhile, landowners are concerned that Williams will resort to eminent domain to buy their properties.

One farmer, who didn't want to be identified, said he revoked the company's right to survey his land and is now concerned that the issue is dividing his community.

"My fear is, even if they say, ‘We don't want to use eminent domain' but then threaten people with that, that weighs upon (residents)," said Sonya Unnoppet, whose father owns a Nelson County farm near the proposed line.

Williams representatives have scheduled a public meeting at the Scott County Cooperative Extension in Georgetown to answer questions from landowners. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The pipeline's route continues to evolve, Droege said.

In one case, the line won't run through the Sisters of Loretto property in Marion County after the sisters objected. The pipeline also won't travel under the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County, news reports indicated.

"If someone tells you ‘no,' then honor their wishes," Unnoppet said, "and not just the Abbey or the sisters but individual landowners who have worked their lives for the land."

A state senator and state representative have filed separate bills to prohibit Williams from using eminent domain. Lawmakers have asked Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session about the pipeline, but one isn't currently scheduled.

To read one of the bills, click here.

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