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After the Rover Pipeline was announced and Roger Meggyesy learned it would bisect farmland he owns, he expressed concerns about maintaining the quality of the topsoil and proper mitigation programs to restore productivity.
That was in 2015. Fast-forward to 2017, and Meggyesy’s fears have not been allayed, which prompted him to request a roadside meeting with a pipeline monitor and environmental inspectors.
“We worked to get good easements and good language (in the contract), but once construction started, everyone seemed to forget,” Meggyesy told Gary Anderson, a third-party pipeline inspector who submits his reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Damon McCarthy, who deals with right-of-way issues on the project; and inspectors from Land Stewards, including Wendell Swartzentruber, who monitors the work to minimize environmental impacts.
Joining the makeshift meeting on the side of the road at the intersection of Blachleyville and Firestone roads were Lindsay Shoup, organizational director for the Wayne County Farm Bureau; Roger Baker, a farmer and state trustee for the Ohio Farm Bureau; and Rod Scheibe, a dairy farmer who rents land from Meggyesy.
Because Meggyesy uses a wheelchair to get around, he sat in his vehicle the whole time. However, he had a perfect vantage point from which he could point out compliance problems. He told the group to look at his property and notice how truck tracks were present at the corner.
“Look at the tracks,” Meggyesy said. “This is not the easement; this is not the ingress or egress.”
It bothered Meggyesy that workers appeared to use his property to access the pipeline right of way, but Energy Transfer Partners opted not to pay him to use that portion of the land. So, trucks were supposed to be limited to accessing the project from Blachleyville Road/state Route 95.
“I don’t appreciate what’s been done,” Meggyesy said. He wants Rover to put that corner of his property under the same mitigation plan in place to restore the rest of the land. “Give us the damages and put it under mitigation plan. When you mitigate that, you mitigate this. ...
“Why do we have to come and fight after the fact?”
Meggyesy answered his own question: “Because the ends justify the means.”
During the meeting, Meggyesy did not hold back his feelings and opinions, but he also made clear he was not directing his frustrations at the workers, rather at “the people in Houston” from Energy Transfer Partners.
Scheibe alleged workers moved survey stakes off the easement onto the farm property to allow for a larger work area.
“We sent survey crews back out to this property following the meeting with the landowner to verify the placement of our stakes,” Rover spokeswoman Alexis Daniel wrote in an email. “We confirmed that our stakes were properly placed and the easement was marked correctly. We were not working outside of our approved easement. ...
“We take all landowner concerns seriously and want to ensure we remain good neighbors for many years to come as we complete construction and begin operations.”
Baker, who was not there in an official capacity for Farm Bureau and who does not have a “dog in the hunt,” let Anderson and McCarthy know farmers are talking about the project. He asked questions to better understand how issues are resolved. Another concern Meggyesy had, and it has been reported elsewhere along the project line in weekly reports submitted to FERC, is the mixing of topsoil and subsoils.
Baker asked, why does it become the farmers’ problem to demonstrate the project had an impact on production and yields?
The contract for the Meggyesy land includes language that Rover will pay for 100 percent crop loss in years one and two; 60 percent in year three; 30 percent in year four; and 10 percent in year five, McCarthy said.
Swartzentruber explained the soil was “triple-lifted,” meaning topsoil was separated, along with the subsoil and substrata. A couple piles were close together, and there was some mixing.
If there is a dispute, then the contracts and guidelines are consulted, Anderson said. “I have to make sure (the contractors) go by them. I am an extra set of eyes out here.”
Anderson provides an additional level of accountability beyond the consultants from Land Stewards, but “I have two spreads and a lot of stuff to look at. I can’t be everywhere.” His area covers nearly 100 miles.
Anderson said he was going to write up a noncompliance issue in a report, which will get sent to Washington, D.C.
“I wish you would say, ‘We did wrong; it is a mess; and I will add your property to mitigation plan,’” Meggyesy said. He doesn’t want his property any better than it was, he added, but he wants it just as good.
Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or email@example.com. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.