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Pittsylvania County to receive $1.25 million for pipeline easement, right-of-way; RIFA still negotiating through megasite

Pittsylvania County to receive $1.25 million for pipeline easement, right-of-way; RIFA still negotiating through megasite

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Pittsylvania County is slated to receive more than $1.25 million for an easement and right-of-way that will run through the county landfill.

“It does displace some planned expansion area,” Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman said of the project. “The compensation was higher than normal because it’s compensating us for lost revenue.”

The right-of-way is for the 75-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate project, which will start at Mountain Valley’s terminus in Chatham, head southwest through Pittsylvania County and cross into North Carolina, extending to Alamance County near Burlington.

It's essentially a 50-foot strip that will run directly through the landfill alongside an existing right-of-way for the Williams Transco Pipeline. In total, Pittsylvania County will lose about 16 acres of the 454 acre landfill.

“It doesn’t really impact us at all other than the loss of the acreage, and they’re paying us for that,” said Richard Hicks, assistant Pittsylvania County administrator.

Per the terms of the easement agreement that was signed this week, the $1.25 million must be paid by the end of June 2021.

The Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority also is negotiating terms with MVP Southgate to grant an easement and pipeline right-of-way through the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill in southwestern Pittsylvania County.

RIFA, which owns the 3,500-acre mega park, is negotiating the financial part of the agreement as well as how and where the pipeline would be built in the park. The RIFA Board unanimously approved the negotiations early last week.

No deal has been reached yet and no details about the potential terms could be shared, Smitherman said.

After concluding in February that the MVP Southgate project would cause some environmental damage which could be minimized to “less than significant levels," the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Southgate project on Thursday. This was the final piece of federal approval needed for the project.

Construction has been targeted to start this year with a completion date in 2021, but the project cannot commence until the mainline system, which runs from through West Virginia and Virginia, receives several remaining permits. Construction of the 303-mile pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia is currently on hold while the permits, set aside by legal challenges from environmental groups, are reconsidered by federal agencies.

Construction of the Southgate project is expected to provide roughly 1,700 jobs and generate upward of $10 million in state and local tax revenues across North Carolina and Virginia, said MVP Southgate spokesman Shawn Day. Once the project is operational, localities along the route are collectively expected to receive roughly $4.5 million in annual revenue from the project, Day said.

Due to the size and layout of the Pittsylvania County landfill, it will be several decades before expansions will reach the easement taken by Mountain Valley Pipeline, as well as the parallel easement from the Williams Transco Pipeline, Smitherman said.

Leaders have described the landfill as one of Pittsylvania County’s best assets, one they are attempting to use to generate revenue by having solid waste imported from other localities.

Even if the current annual flow of 42,000 tons is tripled, the landfill would still have a minimum of 75 years of life, Hicks said in a recent presentation to the board of supervisors.

During a public hearing concerning the proposal on Tuesday, several Pittsylvania County residents spoke about the project, asking county leaders to take the document seriously and to not sign it without significant revisions.

Katie Whitehead, who owns property in Tightsqueeze and also has the Williams Transco pipeline crossing her land, said she thinks that “if more gas were needed, Williams Transco could expand.”

“I am here to encourage you to take the landfill easement document seriously, and not approve it without significant revisions,” she told the supervisors.

Added Lisa Shorter, from the Chatham area: “I just want you to think about it. I just want you to make a wise decision for all of us.”

Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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