KINGSTON TWP. — Concerned Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline will hold a “Tearing of the Offers” event Friday.
The grassroots effort will give residents an opportunity to demonstrate their displeasure with PennEast and UGI Corporation’s eminent domain offers for the planned PennEast Pipeline. The event will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 12 at Mary Leeds’ home at 252 Manor Dr., Shavertown.
“This is not a demonstration or a protest,” Leeds said. “It is for people directly and indirectly affected by the pipeline. We are not going to sign (an eminent domain agreement).”
Leeds is one of many residents along the route of the pipeline who received an eminent domain offer by PennEast to construct a 36-inch diameter natural gas pipeline.
The PennEast Pipeline route will begin in Dallas Township and extend southeast 118 miles to Hopewell Township, New Jersey. It’s expected to transport one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to customers in southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“Eminent domain is the power of the government to acquire property for public use so long as the government pays just compensation,” Jeremy R. Weinstock, attorney at Comitz Law Firm, LLC in Wilkes-Barre said in a written email. “In some jurisdictions, a state delegates eminent domain power to certain public and private companies, typically utilities, such that they can bring eminent domain actions to run telephone, power, water, or gas lines.”
In 2014, PennEast submitted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity application to the Federal Energy Regulation Committee. The application would give PennEast permission to use eminent domain to obtain property for the proposed route that will cut across the Back Mountain and Wyoming Valley.
A 50-foot swath of Leeds’ half acre lot is part of the planned pipeline route. The section of her land PennEast wants is less than 100 feet from her home and her parents. The property consists of “heavy bedrock,” she said.
“PennEast will have to blast through the bedrock. My parents are 89 and 93 years old. They worked hard during their lives,” Leeds said. “What give them (PennEast) the sense they (PennEast) can come in and destroy their (Leeds’ parents) quality of life.”
In compensation, PennEast offered her a one-time fee of $13,000.
After the pipeline is installed, “I can not build anything on it. I can not put a driveway on it,” Leeds said. “I have to accept liability for it. And in 15 years, I will have paid more in property taxes than what they (PennEast) paid me.”
In response, Leeds will tear up the offer Friday.
“Tearing up the offer does not make it go away,” said Attorney Frank Hoegen, of Hoegen & Associates P.C. in Wilkes-Barre.
He advises homeowners to get a group together, pull their resources and take the issue to court.
Leeds is willing to head to court.
“Maybe I will loose. Maybe I won’t,” she said. “Maybe we (the property owners) will lock arms and maybe a judge somewhere will agree.”