United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON OBJECTIONS TO
PROPOSED ORDERS FOR ALL PROPERTIES
Elizabeth K. Dillon, United States District Judge.
order dated January 31, 2018, the court granted MVP immediate
possession of nine properties conditioned on the posting of
the security set by the court. (Dkt. No. 340.) MVP has now
provided that security. (Dkt. Nos. 354, 357.) The court also
directed MVP to submit proposed orders granting immediate
possession of the nine properties, and defendants were given
seven days in which to object to those proposed orders. (Dkt.
No. 340, ¶ 6a.) MVP submitted those orders on February
7, and objections were filed by some of the landowners. (Dkt.
Nos. 360, 374, 381.) MVP filed a response (Dkt. No. 408) and
in its response also offered to revise the orders. According
to MVP and as evidenced by emails it has provided, it
consulted with counsel for the landowners regarding its
proposed revised orders and subsequently submitted revised
orders for the nine properties. (Dkt. No. 420). It also
submitted orders on all the remaining properties on February
22 and 23, 2018. On March 6, 2018, it posted the security set
by the court for all of the remaining properties.
groups of landowners filed objections to the nine revised
orders and to the proposed orders MVP has submitted with
regard to the remaining properties, as have two pro
se defendants, Elijah and Kristin Howard. (Dkt. Nos.
484, 488, 496.) MVP has responded to those objections
(except for the Howards' objection, which was filed after
MVP's response). (Dkt. No. 493.) Additionally, a prior
filing by the Town of Chatham, in which it objected to the
appraisal of its property filed by MVP, also requested that
any order granting immediate possession include an
indemnification requirement. (Dkt. No. 450.) The court treats
that as an objection to the proposed order by the Town of
Chatham, as well. The remaining defendants have not filed any
objections to the proposed orders.
reasons set forth herein, the court will deny some objections
as moot, overrule the objections in part, sustain them in
part, and take them under advisement in part. The court will
enter MVP's proposed orders consistent with its rulings
the objections in docket numbers 374 and 381, the same
defendants have filed subsequent objections to the revised
orders. Thus, the court denies as moot the earlier
objections. (Dkt. Nos. 374, 381.) The court is not sure
whether The Nature Conservancy's objections (Dkt. No.
360) remain as to the revised orders, but will address the
brief arguments in those objections herein.
Objections Already Addressed by Prior Orders
landowners object to the proposed orders on grounds that have
already been rejected by the court. For example, The Nature
Conservancy posits that the court does not have authority to
grant immediate possession as injunctive relief and that
doing so violates the separation-of-powers doctrine. (Dkt.
No. 360.) The court has already addressed and rejected this
argument in its January 31, 2018 Memorandum Opinion. (Dkt.
a number of defendants also object on the grounds that the
court could not rely on the appraisals submitted by MVP to
set security in this matter. (See, e.g., Dkt. No.
484 at 2; Dkt. No. 488 at 5.) The court has rejected that
argument, as well, both as to the first nine properties (Dkt.
No. 339) and as to the remaining properties (Dkt. No. 486).
These objections are overruled.
Objections Due to MVP's Alleged Failure to Comply with
defendants object to immediate possession because they allege
MVP has failed to satisfy conditions set by FERC. As the
court has already noted in a prior opinion, this court does
not determine, and has no authority to police, compliance
with FERC conditions. (Dkt. No. 339.) Thus, objections on
this basis-such as those raised by The Nature Conservancy
(Dkt. No. 360), are overruled.
Objections Due to Imprecise Description of Easements
defendants object on the grounds that the proposed orders all
contain an attachment with the same generic listing of
easements. They note that the listed easement descriptions
may be applicable to that specific property, but that not all
descriptions are applicable to each tract. They contend that
this will be confusing and will complicate the determination
of what is being taken. (Dkt. No. 484 at 2-3; Dkt. No. 488 at
3.) One group of defendants focuses on two descriptions they
refer to as “blanket access easements.” Pointing
to some examples, they argue that the designations on the
attached plats do not delineate which of the following two
easements MVP is seeking: “the right of ingress and
egress to, from, on, and across the permanent and exclusive
rights-of-way to access other properties or sections of the
pipeline, ” or “the right to clear trees, brush,
or other vegetation as necessary.” (Dkt. No. ...