Appeal filed against ACP permit

Published 2:09 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and other organizations recently filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia in response to Buckingham County’s approval of a special use permit for a compressor station for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The appeal was filed by BREDL and its Buckingham Chapter, Concern for the New Generation (CNG).

The appeal addressed the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors, Robert “Bobby” Jones, the chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors at the time of the board’s decision to approve the pipeline, County Administrator Rebecca Carter, the Buckingham County Planning Commission, John Bickford, chairman of the planning commission at the time of the decision, and Planning and Zoning Administrator Rebecca Cobb.

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The appeal argues that the court erred in determining that the notice failed as a pleading, and cited that suits filed under pro se often have more relaxed rules.

The suit was originally filed Feb. 6, 2017 pro se.

“The thirtieth day from the Jan. 5 decision fell on a Saturday, and Respondents filed their paper entitled ‘Notice of Appeal’ in the Clerk’s Office on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017,” the appeal detailing the nature of the case cited.

“Respondents filed a letter dated February 27, 2017 … in the Clerk’s Office that same day, asserting that the Notice conferred no jurisdiction on the trial court and was an attempt at an administrative appeal,” the appeal cited. “On March 8, 2017, Petitioners, by counsel, filed a Petition for Appeal (the “Petition”) in the Clerk’s Office. Thereafter several motions and responses were filed, including Respondents’ Response Pleading which included motions to dismiss for failing to timely note appeal. Counsel for the parties agreed that this issue would be the only matter briefed and argued to the trial court.”

BREDL Executive Director Lou Zeller wrote a notice of appeal to the county dated Feb. 6, 2017 which is required by law to inform the county within the 30 days following the motion.

The case was dismissed Jan. 29 at Buckingham Circuit Court by Judge William Alexander on grounds that the petition against the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors was filed 60 days after the board made the motion to approve the special use permit for the station.

Alexander cited that the notice was not sufficient in his opinion and therefore the petition itself, which was filed March 8, 2017, was not timely because it was filed 60 days after the decision. The permit for the 53,783-horsepower compressor station from ACP was approved Jan. 5, 2017.

Alexander, during the court case in a previous Herald report, said he wished he were 100 percent sure in his decision, and that it’s a case that likely will be appealed and should be appealed.

Regarding the notice, Alexander said he thought it did notify the county but that he didn’t think it was sufficient.

Buckingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney E.M. Wright Jr. represented the county while Charles M. Lollar represented BREDL during the Jan. 28 hearing. Wright laid claim that the original notice to appeal was not sufficient enough. Lollar said that in a county ordinance, it cites that a motion may be petitioned against for up to 30 days after the motion is filed. He also cited that this may mean if the motion is filed when minutes from that meeting are written. Minutes are written and distributed in the board packet for the following board meeting

“Judge Alexander remarked during the hearing, he believed the case should be appealed, and that’s what we have done,” Zeller said in a news release Thursday about the appeal. “The County has done everything it could to slow walk this process, but we are persistent in our support of the Union Hill community, and look forward to a positive outcome from the Supreme Court of Virginia.”