The Laurens County Council voted unanimously this week to oppose any “unfair” eminent domain proceedings presented by the Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission company as it tries to build a natural gas pipeline across South Carolina’s Upstate.
Council Vice Chairman Keith Tollison said the council intends to send a letter to the South Carolina legislature asking them that if eminent domain gets used, Laurens County residents be repaid fair market value for their property.
“What we wanted to do was submit our concerns to our state legislators who we hope would submit those same concerns up the ladder to federal regulators.” said Tollision. Since Dominion is building the pipeline for power utility South Carolina Electric and Gas, the potential use of eminent domain is not seen as a violation of private-public eminent domain banned by the legislature last year.
At Tuesday’s meeting, several Laurens County residents spoke about their experience with Dominion. Erskine Jacks III said the company approached his family about purchasing their land as if they already owned it and offer them a price below market price.
“They have made a couple of different offers but the initial offer was almost offensive low, I’ll just put it that way,” said Jacks in an interview on Wednesday.
Jacks said that his family originally allowed Dominion to survey their land as long as the pipeline only touched the edge of their property. When they received a proposal they were nonplussed to see that their 270-acre property would be split into three separate tracts of land.
“There’s been letters of offer stating that if we didn’t agree to what they had on the table that they would revert back to their first offer, which was significantly lower,” Jacks said. “Or (they’d) take take the thing to eminent domain proceedings.”
Dominion spokesperson Kristen Beckham said that the company has been able to secure 60 percent of easements needed along the path of the pipeline and that they are open to negotiations on the remaining properties. Beckham said that Dominion does not publicly discuss their business dealings with residents.
The 55-mile Tansco pipeline would connect Spartanburg County to Greenwood County. Dominion has said the pipeline is needed to meet growing demand along the coast.