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RALEIGH, N.C. (March 21, 2018) – As the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cuts down trees on hundreds of private properties in North Carolina, a federal judge has barred the energy consortium from clearing trees on two rural homesteads.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said the interstate pipeline developer must first pay the two landowners before its chainsaw crews can enter their properties.
Boyle ruled that Enfield township fire chief Ronnnie Locke and Marvin Winstead Jr., a 67-year-old Nash County farmer, presented a compelling case that the landmen of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline were uncommunicative or deceptive in their dealings.
Locke’s Norfolk, Va.-based lawyer, Chuck Lollar Sr. of Edwards Kirby, says the ruling is highly unusual because it requires compensatory payment to landowners as a condition of entering private property. Lollar notes that in the majority of cases, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is accessing private property to start cutting and moving the earth as the negotiations over compensation drag on, with the intention of paying the landowners at a later time. However, Lollar also notes that this sequence of events creates a sense of inevitability and puts the landowners at a disadvantage when negotiating for a fair price for the loss of the use of their property.
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