Cindy Marsh-Tichy, the President of the NJ Realtors association, wrote a letter on behalf of all 43,000 members of her organization opposing the pipeline:
I am writing to you today on behalf of the approximately 43,000 members of the New Jersey REALTORS® as well as the Hunterdon/Somerset Association of REALTORS® (HSAR) and Mercer County Association of REALTORS® (MCAR) to express our opposition to the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project. We understand the proposed pipeline originates in Luzerne County, PA and enters New Jersey in Holland Township, Hunterdon County before terminating at the Transco pipeline interconnection near Pennington, NJ in Mercer County.
The NJ REALTORS® are the only organization in New Jersey fighting for the rights of property owners. At this point, it appears the construction of the pipeline will infringe on private property rights as it remains unclear what the consequences of denying PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC the right to inspect or drill on your property would be. Along with HSAR and MCAR, the NJ REALTORS® strongly believe that where possible, this pipeline should be placed on existing rights-of-way and easements where other sources of power run through, whether they be other pipelines or power lines for example.
While the NJ REALTORS®, HSAR and MCAR appreciates the need to bring affordable natural gas to consumers in our area, we also have grave concerns regarding the risks that both pipeline construction and the existence a pipeline itself brings to the ability of homeowners to sell their properties in the area. This pipeline could have severe impacts not only on private property rights, but also home and land values. Disclosure issues could also arise as it would be possible for a REALTOR® representing a buyer or seller in a transaction involving a property that that is affected by the proposed project, leaving local REALTORS®, as well as sellers, possibly open to liability.
I feel there are a few points here to consider.
First, PennEast has stated that there are no studies showing that natural gas pipelines affect property values or the ability of people to sell their homes. On the flip side, NJ Realtors saying it is concerned that the pipeline “could have severe impacts not only on private property rights, but also home and land values”. Do you believe the pipeline company or the professional realtors?
The second issue to me is whether co-location makes sense or not. From what I’ve read co-locating pipelines with each other is common and probably the least-impactful way to run a new pipeline. Co-locating other types of easements, however, may not be such a good idea. As it is, the alternate route established by PennEast in January 2015 uses a power line easement for much of the route in NJ. This…isn’t as good as it sounds. They can’t physically build the pipeline under the power lines so they’re going to have to run them next to the lines a certain distance away from them. From what I’ve seen this means the power line easements would have to be widened. So eye sores cutting across our mountains in Hunterdon County are going to get even wider. Even worse, a pipeline easement is not the same as a high voltage power line system. It might be tolerable to have high voltage lines going over your farm, or driveway, or farm land. It’s something altogether different to bury a pipeline across the entire length.
From what I’ve read PennEast jumped on a few comments like this about co-location and are trying to show the FERC what good guys they are and that they “listened” to the comments. And now we have a truly terrible route as a result.