Pipeline surveyors will be able to enter landowner’s property after a yearlong court battle reached what may be its final chapter in Medina County.
In a decision released Monday, an appeals court upheld the ruling of Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier.
The document supports a ruling by Collier last year, which stated that surveyors working on the 255-mile NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline were permitted to enter private property under Ohio law.
The proposed $2 billion project would pump natural gas from eastern Ohio through Medina County and Michigan and into a hub in Canada.
While it’s unclear if the four landowners involved will appeal their case further, a pipeline opponent and leader of the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS, Paul Gierosky, said the case successfully served its purpose.
“We are disappointed,” he said. “However, denying survey access was only a tactic to delay the project to allow time to draw attention to the failed process used for routing and approving pipeline projects.
“We knew it’s not going to stop the pipeline,” the York Township resident said. “We needed time and it gained a lot of time here.”
The pipeline is still on track for a November 2017 in-service date, according to NEXUS spokesman Adam Parker.
NEXUS has an application filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking approval for construction to begin in the first quarter of 2017.
In an email to The Gazette, Parker said the company agrees with the decision of the three 9th District Court of Appeals judges and added similar decisions have been made in 11 other counties in Ohio and two courts of appeals.
“We agree with the Court’s recognition of NEXUS’ right to enter private property to conduct survey activities under Ohio law,” he wrote. “As of today, the Sixth and Ninth District Ohio Courts of Appeal have both specifically ruled that Ohio law provides NEXUS and similar companies this right.”
David Mucklow of Summit County, one of the attorneys for the landowners, expressed disappointment with the decision.
Mucklow said he believes he made a strong presentation based on a Ohio law, which he argued contradicts the Ohio Constitution. The law cited in the Medina County decision states landowners do not need to be reimburse for damage to their land during utility work, which contradicts the constitution’s call for repayment of damages, he said.
“If you’re the property owner, the burden is on you,” he said.
In a separate case, NEXUS filed suit against multiple landowners in July to gain access for environmental surveys on a species of bats, but Collier ruled to wait for the outcome of the appeals case.
No new filings had been posted Tuesday in the bat case.
Gierosky said the window of time for the bat survey closed in August, meaning the surveys cannot be completed until 2017.
Parker did not directly comment in his statement to The Gazette on the status of the bat survey.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Dobbins at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.