GREEN Representatives from Sunoco Logistics outlined plans April 4 for the company’s next right-of-way clearing and maintenance project, which is set to begin April 20.
The work will be done on a north-south gasoline and diesel fuel pipeline that runs through much of the village, between South Prospect to the east and Geib NE and Cresmont NE avenues to the west. The pipeline was constructed in 1939 by Standard Oil and later transferred to BP. Sunoco acquired the pipeline in 2012.
Residents whose properties lie within the 25-foot easement of the pipeline spoke at the meeting, bringing up issues such as deeds to properties that allegedly do not mention the easement, their opinion that that Sunoco should not remove trees that have stood for as long as the pipeline has existed, and that the company should reimburse property owners for property damage caused by the clearing.
Sunoco Logistics Public Affairs Specialist Chris Koop explained that the company operates 8,000 miles of pipelines throughout North America and has been doing so for the past 80 years. Right of way clearing and maintenance of the pipeline, Koop said, is part of an ongoing project that "promotes safe and efficient operation of pipelines by enabling (Sunoco) to protect the integrity of the pipeline, effectively respond to emergencies and increase public awareness of the presence of the pipeline."
Koop said all affected property owners in Hartville will be contacted in person by Sunoco representatives prior to the start of the right-of-way clearing, which is expected to be completed in late August. He added that future right-of-way maintenance is to be expected approximately every three years, and that Sunoco will communicate these activities with property owners.
Residents not convinced
Still, the majority of residents who spoke at the meeting remained dubious.
Councilman Jim Sullivan, who himself will see nine trees on his property cut down as part of the right-of-way work, said he is "as disappointed as everyone else" about the situation.
"There are probably some folks who don’t even know there is a pipeline there," he said. "Nothing was done in so many years; that is what it really comes down to. But I can also see it from the standpoint of Sunoco."
Oneida Trail resident Tom Marquardt told Koop and the other Sunoco Logistics representatives present - Matt Studer, senior manager/operations; Eliot Porter, field specialist, right of way; and Nick Ray, field agent, right of way - that there is nothing in his property deed mentioning the pipeline, much less easement details.
"Nobody did anything and now you’re coming to take the trees – what if I want to sell my house? I’m losing property I bought and paid for 20 years ago," Marquardt said.
Fellow resident Maria Neel presented a copy of the original 1939 pipeline easement, which she claimed makes no mention of the 25-foot right-of-way Sunoco claims.
"So what is the distance and who decides?" Neel asked.
Koop said the distance is an industry standard, adding that Federal regulations mandate that pipelines be clear of overgrowth to the point that they can be visually inspected.
Eliot added that in some cases, structures have also been built above the pipeline.
"We’re not going to come in with a bulldozer; we want to work with residents in these cases," he said. "But if we have to get to the pipeline in the case of an emergency, those will be removed."
Oneida Trail resident Bruce Klipec said he was able to obtain a right-of-way agreement from the 1930s whereby Standard Oil allowed for the planting of trees and crops directly above the pipeline, and that he himself was told by a BP representative that he was permitted to plant the 28 pine trees on his property that are slated to be removed by Sunoco.
"So I will be seeking damages," Klipec said.
Website rebuild coming soon
Council accepted a finance committee recommendation that a contract be drawn up with Solicitor Ron Starkey draw up a contract with RMS Media Systems, at a cost not to exceed $2,500, to rebuild the village website.
Sullivan added that during the finance committee meeting, RMS Media representatives said the company’s monthly fee and hosting charges would be "waived indefinitely" for the village.
At the March 21 council meeting, Mayor Cynthia Billings presented council members with quotes from three companies to rebuild the site, which she described as very outdated. Cost estimates for the upgrades ranged between $2,550 and $8,000.
Road striping contract ready
Billings updated council members on the street department’s annual road striping program.
Street Commissioner Nate Miller said the $8,000 contracted cost is included in the 2017 village budget and he expects to begin the program when the current school year ends.