United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
(GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT)
HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.
This action stems from an expansion effort by Plaintiff Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC ("Transco") to build nearly 100 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline throughout Virginia's Southside region. The case is before the Court on Transco's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 16). For the reasons stated herein, Transco's Motion will be GRANTED.
1. Transco is a natural gas pipeline company subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under the Natural Gas Act ("NGA" or "the Act"), codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 717-717z. On November 21, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") issued Transco a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity ("FERC Certificate"). See Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC, 145 F.E.R.C. P 61152, 2013 WL 6137661 (Nov. 21, 2013). In accordance with the FERC Certificate, Transco intends to build nearly 100 miles of a new 24-inch interstate natural gas pipeline ("Virginia Southside Expansion Project" or "the Project") in multiple states. (Complaint, ECF No.1, at ¶¶ 12, 14.) The Project will allow Transco to transport natural gas from a "pooling point" in New Jersey to a new natural gas-fired power station that a Dominion Virginia Power ("DVP") affiliate is building in Brunswick County, Virginia. Transcontinental Gas, 2013 WL 6137661, at *4.
2. By Order entered on August 7, 2014 (the "August 7th Order, " ECF No. 14), the Court granted Transco's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 5) and Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 7), and included a detailed description of the Project which is incorporated by reference into this Memorandum Opinion. ( See August 7th Order at ¶¶ 6-14.)
3. Transco filed the Complaint in this action and Notice of Condemnation (ECF No. 3) on June 5, 2014 to condemn an easement necessary for the Project over a parcel of real property in Mecklenburg County, Virginia in which the Defendants have an interest. That real property is described as follows:
All that certain tract or parcel of land located in the Chase City Magisterial District, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, located on Highway 49 and being designated as Lot 4, containing 5.23 ACRES, more or less, being shown and described on a plat of survey prepared by B & B Consultants, Inc., dated November 24, 1998 and also shown as Lot 4 on the Revised plat of survey dated September 02, 2005. AND BEING the same property conveyed to Annie R. Leigh from Lillian Lee, Thelma Leigh, Ralph Thomas, Sr., Courtney J. Leigh, Annie R. Leigh, Wilson G. Daughtry, Albert Pickett, Ben D. D'Joleto, Sr., Kathleen V. Clark, Carol Clark, Jacqueline Clark and Gregory I. Clark by Deed of Partition dated November 09, 2005 and recorded August 02, 2006 in Instrument No. XXXXXXXXX (the "Property").
For informational purposes only and not to vary the preceding description of the Property, the Property is identified on the Mecklenburg County, Virginia Tax Map as Parcel No. 032000-04-004.
( See August 7th Order at ¶ 1 (the "Property").)
4. Transco seeks to condemn a temporary construction easement over 0.049 acres of the Property ("Temporary Construction Easement"). The Temporary Construction Easement, which is necessary for the construction and operation of a portion of the Project's new 24-inch natural gas pipeline, is shown and described as "Area of Temporary Work Space" in the Survey Plat prepared by a Certified Virginia Land Surveyor ("Survey Plat"). (Compl., Ex. C thereto.) A legal description of the Temporary Construction Easement is included with the Survey Plat. A copy of the Survey Plat is attached to this Memorandum Opinion as Exhibit No. 1. The terms and conditions of the Temporary Construction Easement are set forth in Exhibit D to the Complaint, a copy of which is attached to this Memorandum Opinion as Exhibit No. 2.
5. In the August 7th Order, the Court found that all Defendants were properly served, and that no Defendant filed an Answer or Notice of Appearance as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 71.1(e). (August 7th Order at ¶ 3.) Additionally, the Court held that Transco has the substantive legal right to condemn the Temporary Construction Easement pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 717f(h). ( Id. at 11, ¶ (3).) Pursuant to the August 7th Order, on August 15, 2014, Transco deposited the sum of $50.00 into the registry of the Court (the "Deposit") as security for the preliminary injunction authorizing Transco to take immediate possession of the easement. ( See Mem. Supp. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 17, Ex. B. thereto.) The Court found that this sum represented the fair market value of the Temporary Construction Easement as determined by a Certified Virginia Real Estate Appraiser. ( Id. at ¶ 31.)
6. Thus after entry of the August 7th Order, there remained only two considerations for the Court: (1) determine the just compensation owing to the remaining uncompensated Defendants for Transco's condemnation of the Temporary Construction Easement; and (2) vest legal title to this easement in Transco.
7. On September 12, 2014, Transco filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Roseboro v. Garrison Notice to any Pro Se Defendants who might respond together with a supporting Brief. Transco's Motion requests that the Court enter summary judgment as a matter of law on the remaining two issues in this case. As no Defendant has responded to Transco's Motion, ...