Gas pipeline to cut swath through trees on several Monkton properties

Several residents on Stansbury Mill Road in Monkton are trying to convince Columbia Gas Transmission to alter the route of a new pipeline that would bring it through their properties.

Columbia has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to install 21 miles of pipeline from Owings Mills to Fallston. The majority of the new, 26-inch underground pipeline will be placed adjacent to the existing pipeline's right of way, according to the application.

The project is estimated to cost $131 million and construction could start next August if approved. The application states the pipeline extension is needed to improve reliability of service for customers in the area.

Columbia held public meetings for homeowners along the 21-mile route this year, but the Stansbury Mill Road residents were unaware the second line was proposed to go on their land. By the time they were certain their properties were involved, the public comment period for the project had ended.

Representatives from Columbia Gas Transmission will attend the Jan. 15 Greater Jacksonville Association's meeting at Jacksonville Elementary School to discuss the pipeline project.

"The first we heard about this was in August," said Orville Hughes, who said he received a letter from Columbia Gas asking if surveyors could come onto his property. "They left a bunch of stakes and ribbons, but never really told us what was going on."

Surveyors also contacted Stansbury Mill Road residents Dennis Hoover and Michael Mickel. In no time, their properties had stakes, too.

All three residents have since filed Motions to Intervene Out of Time with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission so they can submit comments before the commission acts on Columbia's application. Currently, a pipeline crosses Stansbury Mill Road but is not on the Hughes, Hoover or Mickel properties.

Representatives of Columbia Gas Transmission did not respond to requests for information on why the current pipeline route that crosses Stansbury Mill Road was not being followed.

"None of us really wants the pipeline, but if we have to have it, we at least want to have some input about where we think it should go," Hughes said. "It goes dangerously close to a pond on my property."

Hoover said the pipeline would be 44 feet from his bedroom. Mickel said the proposed route on his property goes through an area of springs and wetlands. It would be 24 feet from his house and septic system.

"They plan on cutting down trees in a 75-foot by 660-foot easement," Mickel said. "We'd have to demolish a tractor barn and shed that are in the path."

Theaux LeGardeur, who runs a fly-fishing shop in Hereford and was appointed last year to be Gunpowder Riverkeeper, a member of the nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance, has filed a Motion to Intervene with the Federal Regulatory Commission.

"This project's size is overwhelming," he said. "As far as I can tell, some 300 acres along the 21-mile route will be used for the new pipeline. They fail to recognize the Gunpowder watershed contributes 100 percent of local drinking water by wells or Loch Raven Reservoir."

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