A federal judge has approved the first condemnation of a Lancaster County landowner’s property for the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline.
U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Jeffrey Schmehl on Tuesday issued an order giving the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. the right to condemn the property of Jeffrey and Kim Kann to obtain permanent and temporary rights of way for the pipeline.
The property is located along Main Street in Conestoga Township.
It’s the first eminent domain order among 30 Lancaster County landowners who had refused to sell easements for the pipeline that would pass through 37 miles of the county.
The builders of the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline are seeking an emergency court order to se…
Kim Kann was in the Dominican Republic when she learned of Schmehl's order.
“A federal judge, using established U.S. law, has just condemned my land, allowing Williams to seize it," she said Friday from the Caribbean nation. "I can be detained and arrested by U.S. marshals if I enter my land."
According to the judge's order, "the U.S. Marshal Service, or a law enforcement agency it designates, shall be authorized to investigate and arrest, confine in prison and/or bring before the Court any persons found to be in violation of this Order and in contempt of this Order.”
Of the remaining 30 cases, 16 have been settled between the landowners and Transco and 12 are still in court.
Among them is the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a Roman Catholic religious order in West Hempfield Township that has received worldwide attention recently by building a chapel in the pipeline right of way.
On Friday, attorneys for the religious order filed facts of finding and conclusions of law in the case.
Another order condemned the property of John and Deborah Swanson of Conestoga Township. But court documents show the Swansons agreed to the order.
The order noted that the Swansons retained the right to challenge the amount of money that Transco gives them for compensation.
The owners of the planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline are buying the 107-acre farm in Conestog…
Like Kann, the Swansons' order includes penalties if any attempt is made by the landowners to interfere with Transco’s possession of the rights of way.
“Williams still has not been granted final Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approval for a project that is being built to connect a stranded asset to export markets for massive corporate profit that will not be shared with those whose land they have forcibly taken," Kann said Friday.
She said she will be required to pay federal real estate tax on land she no longer owns.
"This is happening all over Pennsylvania. No one is safe from this corporate land grab," she said.
“Another 30,000 more miles of pipeline are in the planning. Natural gas is neither our only, or best, energy alternative.
“It is time to demand change,” Kann said.
Attempts to contact the Swansons at their home phone were not successful.
Transco is a subsidiary of Williams Partners, the Oklahoma-based pipeline builder and owner that has gotten federal approval for a nearly 200-mile, $3 billion natural gas pipeline through 10 counties in Pennsylvania.
The company still needs two environmental permits from the state before construction can begin.