What happens if you tell that friendly man with the nice smile that works for a company that works for another company that is building a pipeline that, no, you really don’t want a pipeline on your property? You explain, kindly, that you saw one being built on your neighbor’s land and didn’t care for the mess or that you watched the news back in 2015 when the ATEX pipeline (carrying ethane) ruptured, exploded, and melted siding on a house 2,000 feet away and are scared to have one close to your house, your children, your barns, or even your animals. The smiling man will be persistent. He will keep calling and may even stop by from time to time to see if you have changed your mind about a possible survey. “No thanks”, you continue, and eventually he will leave you alone.
A few days, weeks, or months later you will get a certified mail delivery. The package will be large and it will bear the name of your county common pleas court clerk’s office. Inside will be a complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining order, filed by the attorneys, more than likely based over a hundred miles away in Columbus, Ohio, for the company building the pipeline. You will realize that it must be the pipeline company that employed the company that the friendly man worked for. Odd, you think: seeing those fun, friendly names like Utopia or Mariner in such aggressive documents. After all, when one thinks of Utopia, rarely do lawsuits come to mind!
The temporary restraining order will bear the words “ex parte”, which is legalese for “without notice.” Nowadays, there is a good chance that motion has already been granted, even before you knew it had been filed.
What does this temporary restraining order do? It grants the pipeline company unfettered access to survey your property, typically by any survey means usually and customarily employed. Additionally, there will be no compensation, as none is required for access to your property to survey under Ohio’s eminent domain statute. Then, perhaps even on the same day you receive the package from the clerk of courts, that pipeline company’s personnel will begin traversing your property, most likely leaving stakes, holes, and tracks. There might even be cut fences, ruined crops, broken trees, and other damage to your property.
You hope this is where it stops. Perhaps the pipeline company will find your property unsuitable for its needs. Perhaps they will not build that particular pipeline. These things do and have happened in the past. However, quite a few Ohio landowners are not that lucky.
You call the friendly man. You get no response. You email him. You get no response. You call the Columbus, Ohio lawyers that represent the fun, friendly sounding pipeline project. You get no response. You wait.
“What happens next?”, you are probably asking yourself. Stick around for the Part 3 to see!