Affected Property Owners
An easement does not decrease the property owner’s tax obligation. Although the owner can request an abatement, until such abatement is granted, the homeowner pays the property tax on the easement.
Furthermore, compensation received from the pipeline company is taxable. The granting of the easement is treated as a sale, and therefore the compensation is a capital gain. Any additional compensation is taxed as income.
A pipeline can change the land use of a property from residential to industrial. Insurance companies should be notified of a pipeline installation, and premiums may be raised accordingly for the affected homeowner (and potentially for neighbors within a certain vicinity of the pipeline).
Pipeline construction and maintenance can cause property values to decrease for numerous reasons. The pipeline company is not required to restore the property to anything close to its original condition.
Initial construction can clear-cut and level a 125′-wide swath of landscape, destroying the curb appeal of the property. Although trees may be restored (after decades of maturation) in a portion of this swath, a permanent 50′ easement is virtually unusable by the homeowner. This remaining easement must be kept clear of any deep-root vegetation such as shrubs and trees. Only grasses and weeds are allowed to cover the permanent pipeline scar, and herbicides may be applied as a method of controlling unwanted vegetation.
The increased health risk introduced by a natural gas pipeline is an additional deterrent to buyers and therefore decreases the value of the property. Fluctuation of property value has also been tied to frequency and severity of recent pipeline explosions.
The deed to a property may become invalid when a pipeline is installed on a property. Some mortgage companies will not finance a property containing a gas pipeline. The property is collateral for the home loan, so additional mortgage insurance premiums could be charged due to decreases in property value. Equity loans and refinances could also be denied.
Water quality can be affected during and after construction. Blasting can disturb sediment, causing it to flow to the home rather than resting safely at the bottom of the well. Water tables can also crack or shift during blasting, rerouting the water away from a well. Gas companies are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and do not have to disclose the chemicals in the pipeline. A pipeline leak could contaminate a well with undisclosed chemicals.
Natural gas leaks can cause illness and, in the most extreme case, death from explosion.
Pipeline company employees and their agents are authorized to invade the privacy of a property containing an easement for inspection and maintenance. A potential additional nuisance factor is the use of low-flying aircraft for visual inspection to detect dead vegetation caused by gas leaks.
In New England, governors are pushing for a tariff to be placed on the utility bills of all New England customers to fund pipeline projects.
Taken from NH Pipeline Awareness’ excellent introduction to advice for Affected Property Owners
LAND OWNER RIGHTS, PROPERTY VALUE and INSURANCE ARTICLES
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