Tensions rise over proposed pipeline in northeast Ohio

A worker shields his face against temperatures in the teens as he guides a section of pipe while working on a shale gas pipe line Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Zelienople, Pa. The completed pipeline is to connect area gas wells to a local compressor station. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) – Homeowners in northeast Ohio said tensions surrounding a proposed underground pipeline are rising after a project manager informed property owners that surveyors may enter their property without permission.

The letter, signed by project manager Walton Johnson, said work on the Nexus gas transmission pipeline must be conducted without delay, The Medina Gazette reported. The letter indicated that if property owners hadn’t granted permission for property access by May 1 in order for surveyors to provide advanced notice, Nexus may enter properties without consent to perform necessary survey activities.

The proposed pipeline would run through nine Ohio counties. The 200-mile corridor of 42-inch-diameter pipe would be capable of transporting as much as 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, an amount that would meet the needs of around 20,000 homes for a year. Gas from the pipeline would be made available to industry and to gas-fired power plants.

While some have been fighting the pipeline since its introduction, some property owners say the letter has increased tensions. Paul Gierosky with the Coalition to Re-route Nexus, said people are questioning the demands of the letter and feeling threatened.

Jon Strong, also with the Coalition to Re-route Nexus and a recipient of the letter, called the pipeline fight an “ugly process.”

“My fear is that it’s going to escalate,” he said. “People just have a feeling no one’s listening to them.”

Walter Giebeler and his wife Verna, have put up “no trespassing” signs with symbols of guns on their York Township property. Giebeler said he’s almost 80 years old, and has no intention of giving in to the pipeline developers.

“Even if I end up in prison, I’m not going to give one foot of my property away,” he said. “I don’t make it secret about how I feel about it. My wife and I are running out of patience.”

A Nexus official said in a statement that the company will continue to work to obtain cooperative and voluntary permission from landowners, and only exercise right of entry as a last resort.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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