The developer of a proposed 42-inch natural gas pipeline in southwestern Virginia has applied for conversion of 0.62 acres on a 590-acre open-space easement held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation along the border of Roanoke and Montgomery counties.
The application, submitted by Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in June and available for download here, will be considered by the VOF board of trustees at its next meeting in Fredericksburg on June 22, 2017.
MVP is not seeking to cross the easement with the pipeline; rather, it seeks to maintain a permanent access road on the property. The pipeline itself is proposed to cross a neighboring property.
VOF learned about the permanent access road during the draft Environmental Impact Statement process under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The foundation notified both MVP and FERC in March that the request would trigger the conversion process described in section 1704 of the Virginia Open Space Land Act.
As part of this process, MVP is required to propose substitute land of greater conservation value than the open space being affected. The company is proposing a 10.25-acre parcel next to the 952-acre Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve, which is owned and managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and protects the world’s largest known population of a globally rare shrub.
VOF’s trustees will, on June 22, consider whether the application meets the requirements of the Virginia Open Space Land Act, which says, “No open-space land, the title to or interest or right in which has been acquired under this chapter and which has been designated as open-space land under the authority of this chapter, shall be converted or diverted from open-space land use unless (i) the conversion or diversion is determined by the public body to be (a) essential to the orderly development and growth of the locality and (b) in accordance with the official comprehensive plan for the locality in effect at the time of conversion or diversion and (ii) there is substituted other real property which is (a) of at least equal fair market value, (b) of greater value as permanent open-space land than the land converted or diverted and (c) of as nearly as feasible equivalent usefulness and location for use as permanent open-space land as is the land converted or diverted.”