Tom West of Rittman points to some trees that will be taken down where the NEXUS pipeline will go on his property. ASHLEY FOX / GAZETTE
Property owner Gary Adkins said he had a “two-word” reaction to the news Wednesday that the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline was one step closer to being constructed.
“Upset … angry,” Adkins said Thursday.
Adkins and his wife, Deb, have lived in their home on Eastern Road in Rittman for 22 years.
With the pipeline route proposed to be built within 100 feet of a back door of their home, Deb Adkins said her primary concern is the safety of her family.
She noted that Rittman, like other small towns in the area, rely on volunteer fire department services.
“If there is a fire or explosion, we’re just too close,” she said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday released its final environmental impact statement.
The statement concluded that adverse environmental impacts can be “mitigated.”
The 541-page report will be used by FERC’s three commissioners as they make a final decision on whether construction may begin as planned in early 2017.
NEXUS officials told The Gazette on Wednesday in an email that they were pleased with the recommendation that the project proceed along a route originally proposed in 2014.
Gary Adkins, an Army helicopter pilot deployed to Afghanistan until recently, returned to find NEXUS survey stakes in the back yard.
His wife noted that the couple had hoped to retire in their home and that they looked forward to having grandchildren play in the back yard someday.
The Adkinses have lived at the 4.3-acre site for more than 20 years.
Gary Adkins said they do not raise animals as a business, but have chickens, dogs, cats and “a fish.”
He said the animals they have are “a hobby.”
“I do like to deer hunt on the property,” he said, “but that could be affected (by the construction).”
Another family who lives near the Adkinses’ property is Tom and Ruth West, whose land is also on the proposed route.
Tom West said Thursday he considered building his small horse farm a great achievement. West said his three children grew up on his land and 10 grandchildren spent summers horseback riding there.
“This was my dream,” he said. “We bought a piece of land in 1967 and started building in 1969.”
When FERC commissioners make their final decision, it is expected to be followed by further legal action from groups opposed to the project.
“I just don’t understand how they (regulators) can allow it so close to people’s homes,” Gary Adkins said.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s recommendation, Gary Adkins was asked if he now considers it inevitable to negotiate an easement with NEXUS for the right to cross his land. “I get pretty stubborn sometimes,” he said. “I guess if they made an incredible offer …”
Gary Adkins said he believes legal challenges are still possible on whether pipeline meets eminent domain criteria “and that may delay (the beginning of construction) a little longer.
“I’m afraid of the future,” he said, adding there could come a time when “we’re not going to have a choice.”
Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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