Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cost Nelson County $43 mllion

newspaperThe Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cost Nelson County up to $43 million dollars per year, with additional one-time costs of up to $41 million, according to an independent economic report issued Tuesday by Key-Log Economics.

Individuals and businesses would lose up to $25 million in property value outright, while annual losses would include $18 million in recreation tourism dollars and $1.2 million in personal income.

The county government would lose $526,000 in tax revenue and $144,000 in property tax revenue per year should the pipeline be built in Nelson County.  The total annual costs to Nelson County far exceed the local annual tax payment promised by ACP LLC.  These costs would be borne by the entire community, assuming taxes were raised to cover lost county revenue.

The report surveyed available literature and research studies on the effects of natural gas pipelines on property values.  Effects were estimated based on the best and most recent research.  Previous studies that failed to find an effect did not ensure that buyers were aware of the presence of the pipeline, and they used properties that were still in the evacuation zone to compare to properties that were in the right of way.

“Dominion wants to subsidize their profits on the backs of Nelson County’s property owners and tax payers.  Property owners in the right of way will be forced to ‘host’ the ACP, and will not even be compensated for losses in property value. The entire community will suffer as property taxes are raised to make up for lost revenue,” says Joanna Salidis, President of Friends of Nelson.

The construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would reverse the trend of growth that has been a trademark of Nelson County.  Since 2001 population has grown 2.8 percent, sole proprietorships have grown almost 30 percent and investment and retirement income by over 61 percent.  “Retirees, entrepreneurs and small business owners in a variety of industries choose where they locate, basing their decisions on amenities and quality of life “ in which Nelson County excels.

“If what we have here changes, we won’t be as attractive for real estate,” says Dima Holmes of Wintergreen Real Estate.  “(People) don’t buy (just) the real estate, they buy the experience and they buy what we have to offer.”

Over 26 miles of pipeline proposed for Nelson County would touch over 130 parcels, with over 87 percent of the permanent right of way currently forested.  2,094 people and 2,409 homes lie within the evacuation zone, should an accident occur.  The ACP would be the first and only natural gas pipeline in Nelson County.

“We believe that property value and other losses would actually be considerably greater than Key-Log estimated – because even the best available research isn’t assessing the impact of a pipeline or right of way this big in a tourism dependent community with steep, forested terrain comparable to the route through Nelson,” continued Salidis.

The Nelson County Pipeline Impact Study is part of a 4 County analysis including Augusta, Buckingham and Highland Counties.  That study places 4-county costs at over $100 million annually plus an additional one-time cost of $141 million.  These costs include estimated impacts to air, water and recreational benefits.

The Dominion reroute recently announced will further increase these costs as more property and more landowners will be affected in Augusta along with new ones in Bath County. It affects Nelson and Buckingham counties in that as the costs of the pipeline continue to mount, proposed tax payments to these counties will continue to decline.

The pipeline impact study was spearheaded by Friends of Nelson and was funded by donations from citizens and property owners.  “It has fallen to us to analyze the costs to Nelson County should this pipeline come to pass,” said Ernie Reed of Friends of Nelson.  “The study demonstrates not only how economically dangerous the pipeline is but also how Nelson County would bear a huge share of costs at the hands of Dominion.”

“While the use of the pipeline is measured in years, the costs to the county are forever,” Reed concluded.

The reports are available at:  www.friendsofnelson.com.


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