Pipeline Easements and Associated Costs
Pipelines provide safe transportation of gas and other fuels underground. However, they require the use of many miles of property for the installation and management of these pipelines. If the property owner and pipeline company cannot come to an agreement, the company may move forward by right of eminent domain.
Understanding Eminent Domain and Easements
Eminent domain is the right of the government or another authorized party to take private property from the owner for public use. The company is obligated to pay compensation to the property owner for the loss of property. In the case of installing a pipeline, the entire property is usually not needed. In this case, an easement allows the company access to the area where they can install the pipeline and maintain it.
An easement is a legal term that allows a party to use part of a property that does not belong to them. They do not own the property with an easement, but it does give them the right to access it. The easement holder has the right to put restrictions on the use or alterations of the property.
A pipeline easement usually includes the area where the pipeline is buried as well as a certain amount on either side. Generally, the pipeline is buried about three feet under the ground and is often located in the middle. Along with the easement is the right of way. This term means that the company is allowed access to the area where the pipeline is located even if it means crossing someone else’s property.
There are usually some restrictions to the right of way, which includes planting any trees or shrubs, building anything or any other obstruction that could hinder access to the pipeline.
Negotiating an Easement
Both the pipeline company and the landowner may negotiate certain aspects of the easement or make changes that become amendments after the easement is in place. For instance, one stipulation of the easement may be not to hold the property owner liable for any accidents or problems that occur as a result of building the pipeline or maintaining it.
There may also be payment for any plants, trees or crops that are damaged in the building of the pipeline. In addition, the property owner can request reseeding or replanting of the grasses after installation is completed. A timeline may be given for completion of the pipeline and all other restoration.
These are just a few of the many aspects of a pipeline easement that may be considered and negotiated or amended. Because of all that is involved in this type of project, it is important to hire an attorney to handle the negotiations and ensure the property owner’s rights and property are protected.
While property owners can seldom successfully prevent an easement, they do have the right to compensation for the costs associated with it. There is the loss of the actual property. This will be minimal since the entire property still belongs to the property owner. However, there are other costs to consider. For example, there is the loss associated with the inability to develop this part of the property and problems selling the property in the future because of the perceived risk of explosion.
To ensure the rights of the property owner are protected, they need to hire an experienced attorney with knowledge of pipeline easements and the costs associated with them. While it is not always beneficial to file a claim for compensation, an attorney can fight for the damages the property owner is entitled to receive in this situation.