Rachael Smith, Nelson County Times
The Nelson Board of Supervisors has opted not to meet with Dominion Resources — the company proposing a controversial natural gas pipeline through the county — or respond in writing to a request for future land use, growth projections and other information.
Dominion had asked if board members would meet with the company’s representatives to discuss land uses within a quarter mile of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Dominion submitted a dozen questions inquiring about topics such as the nature of Nelson County’s growth trends, local concerns and whether any other projects are to be constructed near the route. Reporting back to Dominion, county staff declined to answer questions until the interaction was verified by the board.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting last week, County Administrator Steve Carter said the board has received several comments from the public who had thought the meeting proposed by Dominion would be about local approvals and variances.
Carter said that just isn’t the case.
“We certainly don’t want to get ahead of the board in any way or suggest to the public that there are secret meetings being conducted with Dominion or that we are giving them information on how to get permit approvals,” Carter said. “That is absolutely not true and we would never do something like that.”
The board considered the idea of placing Dominion’s 12 questions on the county’s webpage for the public to view and comment on. Then county staff could answer the questions and also place those responses on the online forum for public viewing.
“I think it was a benefit to the county to answer these questions,” Chairman Larry Saunders said. “I think at some point the county should answer these questions. In the long run it will be a benefit to answer these questions and let Dominion know about the concerns we have.”
Board members ultimately decided in a unanimous vote to not answer the company’s questions.
Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle said the company currently is working on Resource Reports as part of its pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and asking these questions to the affected counties is part of that process.
“A lot of land use data is a public record, so the meetings would be to learn details or get updates,” he said. “But if a county refuses to meet with us, then we would not have that information. We would note that in the report and move on to another of the [pipeline’s] 26 counties.”