As work moves forward to construct a natural gas pipeline through Livingston County, homeowners along the route, which travels through Putnam, Marion, Iosco and Handy townships, face the seizure of their land through eminent domain.

That was the ruling of a federal judge last month concerning 116 parcels of land in Livingston, Washtenaw and Lenawee counties whose owners have yet to reach right-of-way agreements with the ET Rover Pipeline company. Tree clearing operations have already begun along the route and the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith (document posted below) allows ET Rover to access adjacent properties during construction, whether or not the property owners want them to or not. The judge noted that if Rover was unable to complete the necessary tree clearing by March 31st it would “significantly delay” the commencement and completion of the project’s construction.

The company’s attorneys estimated that the cost of having to skip land parcels while property and easement rights are worked out would range between $800,000 and $1.7 million per parcel. Accordingly, the judge ordered ET Rover to deposit just over $2.5 million with the court clerk to cover fair compensation costs for property owners who would lose their lands through the power of eminent domain, which allows for the taking of private property for public use.

The 15 miles of pipeline that will pass through Livingston County are the final section of the more-than-700 mile long pipeline that is being built to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural-gas produced in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, passing through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. It will meet up with the Vector Pipeline just outside Fowlerville, where it will then carry the natural gas on into Canada.

Meanwhile, a group formed to combat the pipeline, ET Rover Go Home, will next be meeting on Tuesday, March 21st from 6:30-7:50pm at the Pinckney Community Public Library. Organizers say it will be a Volunteer Work-Session. Their next regular informational & organizational meeting will be on Tuesday, April 4th at 6:30pm, also at the Pinckney Library. The theme of that meeting will be: "What to Expect and How to Respond." You'll find details of the group through their Facebook page, which is linked below. (JK)