By: Bo Koltnow, Reporter
Stockton New Jersey farm owner Charlie Fisher may soon be stepping into a very different looking future.
“The pipeline is supposed to come right across my farm on a diagonal, right across the driveway.” He explained. The 114 mile long Penn East pipeline’s promise is to bring cheap natural gas into New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, but Fisher says it would be at the expense of his 75-acre preserved farm.
“Hay can’t grow over top of pipeline.” Fisher added. The pipeline is set to go through 4,400 acres of preserved land. Recently, Fisher and nearly 70 other landowners in Hunterdon and Mercer Counties started HALT, Homeowners Against Land Taking, to not only derail Penn East from their properties but to stop it completely.
“Entire valley has been preserved and they’re just picking on us because we chose not to have houses here.” Fisher said. Now the group has hired a DC law firm versed in environmental and eminent domain issues.
“Absolutely the last resort that PennEast will exercise, we believe strongly working with homeowners.” Said PennEast Spokeswoman Patricia Kornick.
Despite strong opposition from western New Jersey, homeowners, municipalities, legislators and environmental groups PennEast says its 2017 construction start timeline hasn’t changed if approved by the Federal Government.
“We are proceeding as intended.” Kornick said. For New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Tom Gilbert, the legal battle represents more than a pipeline but the integrity of preservation programs themselves.
“It undermine those places people thought would be preserved for our children and grandchildren.” He said.
That hired DC law firm does think the upcoming legal issues will delay any decision made about the project.
This article originally ran on WFMZ-TV, 69 News on January 29, 2016.