Bill meant to level the playing field for pipeline takings passes Senate

    Workers laying portions of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Roanoke County. This view shows where it will cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - July 26,2018)

    New legislation that would level the playing field for property owners in an eminent domain taking lawsuit sailed through the Senate on Thursday.

    The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, would eliminate provisions in the assessments of costs in eminent domain proceedings for some condemnors, such as public service companies like utilities. Property owners would not simply get “just compensation,” but they’d also get costs of appraisal, expert witnesses and other expenses.

    It would apply to the two major pipeline projects — the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines —  that are currently engaged in eminent domain litigation.

    “The pipeline companies should not get preferential treatment under our condemnation laws,” Petersen said in a statement. “My bill will level the playing playing field in favor of the landowner, the small business, or the farmer if a pipeline comes across their land.”