Thursday, September 7, 2017

Residents face off with Sunoco along pipeline right of way

Fencing  separates Mariner East 2 pipeline route and private residences in Delaware County. Jon Hurdle photo

Jon Hurdle reports for StateImpact:

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in Delaware County, three residents of Thornbury Township stepped over a spray-painted line marking the edge of a right-of-way where a contractor for Sunoco Pipeline was preparing land for construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The response from one of about eight hard-hatted workers was immediate: he got on his phone and called the police, claiming that the residents were trespassing.
Within a few minutes, two state troopers showed up and began to question the contractors and the residents, some of whom are members of the Andover Homeowners Association, which represents a development of 38 substantial suburban houses a few yards from the pipeline route, and owns the land on which the pipeline will be built.
For the second consecutive day, the residents told the police that they have a right to walk on the land, as instructed by their attorney, because it is owned by their association, and because they are not interfering with the contractors’ work.
“I’m allowed to walk on this property as long as I don’t impede their progress,” said Jennifer Berlinger, in an exchange with State Trooper Carlton Wright. “As much as I would like to chain myself to that 200-year-old tree so that they don’t cut it down because I love it, I’m not doing that.”
Berlinger, owner of a 1798 farmhouse on whose land the development was built, said she was there to record the damage done to the property by the pipeline preparations.
“I’m allowed to do that,” said Berlinger, whose back porch is about 50 feet from the right of way. “I don’t know where they get the idea that we can’t walk on our own property.”
The confrontation between some private landowners and pipeline representatives, fueled by lawyers, police and local officials, can be seen at other places along the 350-mile pipeline route from southwest Pennsylvania to the Sunoco terminal at Marcus Hook. Opponents such as the Andover residents continue to fight the company’s use of eminent domain even though construction has been underway since February, and continue to claim that their safety will be threatened by a pipeline carrying highly volatile liquids a few yards from their homes.
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