What it means to be a rural community

Simon from NYC grew up in West Amwell, NJ, and his parents still live there. he writes:

Municipal Open Space, Farmland and Recreation and Preservation Trust Fund

West Amwell Township, my picturesque and rural home, has set up the above trust fund to conserve the inherent rural and farmland character of our community. Voters CHOSE THIS. My parents, along with other community members, PAY A TAX TO PRESERVE OUR RURAL COMMUNITY. The Penn East pipeline has targeted preserved lands for its profitable pipeline project. OUR COMMUNITY DOES NOT WANT OR SUPPORT THIS PIPELINE ON OUR PERSERVED LAND.

I don’t know if people rural just how rural and picturesque this area is. It’s an amazing combination of hills, lowlands, forests, farms, and of course the Delaware River that makes it profoundly beautiful. Here’s some shots of areas where the pipeline will be coming through:

Sunset on Woodens Lane. West Amwell, NJ.

Hewitt Road. West Amwell, NJ.

Farm on Hunter Road. West Amwell, NJ.

Looking towards Fiddler’s Creek. West Amwell, NJ.

Howell Living History Farm. Hopewell Township, NJ.

Near Moore’s Creek. Hopewell Township, NJ.

Fox on Hewitt Road. West Amwell, NJ.

Alpaca Farm on Woodens Lane. West Amwell, NJ.

Howell Living History Farm. That’s Baldpate Mountain in the distance.

Realtors say the pipeline will impact your land’s valuation

Betty in Stockton tells the FERC:

We have lived on this property about 41 years. We are going to be 75 this year. In June we started searching the possibility of selling because it is too difficult to do the needed work here now. As soon as the pipeline was made public for our area, realtors informed us the value of our property would go down considerably. This was our investment for our future. Without it, our lives will be very negatively impacted. Now that is on hold because people do not want to live near the pipeline. We do not either, but we would not be able to afford to move without adequate income from the property sale.

Most of the 17 acres of our property are wooded. Mostly mature hardwood trees. We have been in farmland assessment for woodlot management for many years. We followed the rules to manage the trees cut, etc. Our understanding is PennEast can come in and cut whatever they want. wherever they want. How is that right when we have worked to protect the forest and followed the rules? This property qualifies as farmland because of the trees and the mandates needed to make that possible. The trees are a valuable asset for our environment. They can not be replaced as mature trees.

From what I can tell the pipeline is running through land like this strictly because of the change in January to co-locate along the high voltage powerline easement. PennEast is just blindly following that easement and ignoring the fact that a powerline easement and a pipeline easement are two very, very different beasts. It seems terrible that people who have lived on their land for 41 years are having their lives turned upside down because PennEast can’t do their homework and keep changing their story on the pipeline details.

92 year old farmer’s concerns about his land and taxes

George in Moore Township, PA was born on his parent’s farm in 1923. And he still lives there. And PennEast would like to run a pipeline through it…

My parents purchased this farm in March 1920. I was born on this land in 1923 and continue to live on this land; I am 92. Both my parents and I have paid substantial taxes over the years in support of this land. But now my rights to use this land is being threatened by the proposed 36 inch PennEast Pipeline. Yes the stated easement is only 50 foot but who in their right mind would even consider purchasing land within 250 yards of this pipeline? The total farm is now devalued significantly!

Currently, I have experienced water runoff problems that occur during heavy rains. The proposed pipeline will funnel additional runoff water downslope and only exacerbate the problems in the future. Removal of trees and other plants that hold water along the pipeline route will only worsen the problem. Where is the information on how they will control this runoff?

Yes, we have paid taxes on this land since it was acquired and will have to continue to pay taxes into perpetuity for land that is significantly devalued due to this pipeline. Who is going to fight to have the taxes reduced? Is this a good deal for Moore Township or Northampton County? No, it is not, and in fact, it hurts the community in that they now have to plan, equip and train for possible large gas pipeline emergencies. Where do the funds come from for the training, equipment and insurance? Taxes must go up and we get no benefit. Great! Has PennEast ever provided communities along the route with information about emergency measures to deal with potential pipeline catastrophes? Or, are they to gain this information through osmosis? I am told that the proposed easement can also be used to install additional pipelines or other infrastructure or can even be sold. Is this correct? PennEast would have 24/7 access to this land and could install “pig launchers” or valves as desired or other infrastructure where the pipeline crosses the 500 KVolt power line. This could render additional land useless! In exchange for some minimal one-time payment, the pipeline company would have use of my property forever and I pay taxes on that land. Do you really think that is right?

I have read about farmers that have allowed, or been ordered, by the court to allow pipelines to pass under their land. Despite claims by the construction companies, these farmers have stated that the farmland disturbed by the construction, produce crops at a reduced yield from land not disturbed. Trenching through farmland changes the soil composition and compaction for hundreds of years and therefore impacts crop yields of tax paying farmers. Is there monetary composition for this reduction on a yearly basis since crop prices change?

You can read George’s entire submission below.

George in PA – FERC Generated PDF

George in PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Dreaming of daylilies…

The submission from Emma in Stockton below was one of the reasons I started this web site. It shows the costs of this pipeline go beyond material costs and environmental impacts.

This is my husband, Brant Switzler. Can you see the joy in his face? This is his DREAM. He has spent years cultivating a daylily farm. He has hand planted thousands of flowers, 350 different varieties that will all have to be moved if the Penn East’s pipeline permit is granted. This is NOT just a DITCH to be dug. This is a LIFE”S WORK. Please…

Please do visit the link below to see a picture of Brant and his humongous daylily plot…

Emma and Brant’s Daylilies – FERC Generated PDF

Emma and Brant’s Daylilies – FERC Generated PDF ALternate Site

The 400ft KILL ZONE

I think Nora in Stockton NJ has a reason to be upset….

My 24 acre farm abuts the proposed route of the PennEast Pipeline. I have major concerns about the consequences of this pipeline coming so close to my house, drinking water well & horses.

1.At a recent township meeting in Delaware Township I learned that there is a 400ft KILL ZONE around the Pipeline! This means that if there were a leak, the explosion could kill everything within a 400 ft. radius .My house and horses are within the KILL ZONE. I believe that it is a violation of my human rights to force me to live in fear of my husband, horses & myself dying from a pipeline breach. How would I be able to live knowing of this possibility? This violation of my human rights would be for a private company’s profits

2.This concern is not unwarranted! Just recently, on January 15th, 2015, there was a natural gas line break near Bellis Rd & Shire roads in Holland Township, NJ. This gas line break resulted in a half mile radius evacuation. This gas line was 12 inches in diameter. The proposed PennEast Pipeline is 36 inches in diameter. If there is a break in the PennEast Pipeline how large would the radius of evacuation be? Once again, why should I be forced to live within a EVACUATION ZONE of a pipeline for a private companies profit. Additionally, how would we evacuate our horses & live stock. Once again, should my horses lives be endangered for a private company’s profits.

That Kill Zone perimeter is pretty terrifying when you look at some of the PennEast proposed route in Pennsylvania:

Cutting farms in half

Emma in Stockton NJ owns a fifty acre farm that will have the pipeline running across its entire length. She shares some of her concerns:

1. The proposed easement is would block all fifty acres from being accessed by heavy equipment. The access gate for farm equipment, carefully placed so that there is adequate room to turn a farm tractor from the road will fall within the proposed easement. This is also where the neighboring farm of over 100 acres is also accessed, and also the third adjoining farm behind. So in essence, three farms will be blocked from farm equipment.

2. The access to my lower fields that are farmed will also be blocked by the easement.

3. The easement will prevent me from farming almost one third of my land if even if the access problem could be solved.

4. In the proposed easement is a fruit orchard of over 50 trees and farm of over 350 species of daylilies that will have to be relocated. If the orchard is changed it also endangers the bees that are being raised by our beekeeper.

5. An eighty thousand dollar freestanding solar array, paid for by New Jersey may be within the easement proposal.

6. There is a pond, a creek, and substantial wetlands that will be crossed. Study will be needed to determine if there are specific endangered vegetation in this area and how the hydrology of the stream will be affected.

7. There is a natural hedgerow with at least three dens, one of them may be a wildcat den, and a natural run off waterway that leads directly to the creek, specifically within the proposed placement of the pipeline. If the dirt is at all compacted in this runoff area, there will be substantial storm water management issues that will impact homes downstream. Roads have already been washed out in big weather events.

8. There are numerous natural springs that need to be located specifically in relation to the proposed pipeline.

9. There is an old stone well that needs to be investigated, because it may be of historical significance and the possible sight of an old homestead.

10. There is an oak tree, over 250 years old, which has already been specifically protected by the township that will be endangered.

If you take a look at an overhead map of Stockton you can see what Emma is talking about:

As you can see this is pristine farm country that the pipeline will be running through (the pipeline survey corridor is the parallel purple lines). In many cases they’re trying to co-locate along the power line right-of-way – but then again in many cases they aren’t. Here’s a virgin tract that’s going to be ripped up by Penn East: