The group called the Private Property Rights Coalition (PPRC) is hosting its second free informational meeting on the eminent domain process for landowners along the Dakota Access Bakken oil pipeline route.
Spokesman Keith Puntenney says the group is trying to help land owners with information on a couple of key issues.
“You have the county compensation hearings about valuation — which is the taking by eminent domain — and then you have the opportunity for the landowners to file an individual lawsuit saying ‘no,’ you can’t use eminent domain against my property,” according to Puntenney.
They held a meeting in central Iowa last night and tonight’s meeting is in Storm Lake. “The largest number of holdouts are basically from Story County all the way to BV (Buena Vista). This is really intended to catch the majority of folks that are from Calhoun County all the way up to BV,” Puntenney says. He says there are believed to be around 150 or so people who have not agreed to voluntarily give an easement for the pipeline.
Puntenney says they want to give the landowners as much information as they can on what will happen and their options. “This is extremely confusing, and frankly, nobody in Iowa has done anything like this before in the size and scale of what is being approached here,” Puntenney says. “There are not a lot of eminent domain attorneys in Iowa frankly, and usually they are involved with road takings and things like that..public takings by government agencies themselves. So, this is the first one that really deals with a large-scale private project that we’re aware of.”
Landowners have 30 days to decide what action they will take once they’ve been served by the county sheriff that the company wants to use eminent domain for their property. “The first meetings on the county compensation side that I’ve heard about are June 13th up in Cherokee County. And I know there are some scheduled in Boone County for June 1h and 16th. And we are fairly certain that the sheriffs of some other counties are probably out serving notices to some of the landowners in other counties to start those compensation hearings there as well,” Puntenney says.
He says signing up for a voluntary easement would impact the landowners well into the future. “We’re encouraging people not to sign,” Puntenney explains, “one of the major aspects of not signing and if the land is taken in eminent domain, when that pipeline ceases to be used, they have to come back in and take that pipeline out. If they sign a voluntary easement — that’s not true.”
The meeting in Storm Lake is from 7-9 p-m at the Knights of Columbus Hall. If you can’t attend the meeting and want more information, you can call Puntenney at 515-230-1001.