Kinder Morgan is pursuing eminent domain proceedings against six Fulton County landowners on behalf of its Utopia pipeline project.
The Texas-based company filed condemnation petitions in Fulton County Common Pleas Court against Thomas D. Keil, Robert E. Zimmerman II, and David T. Keil, all of Delta; Carl H. Pinkelman of Swanton; and Edwin T. Howard of Perrysburg and Loretta Mosher of Englewood, Fla., who own county property.
Carl Pinkelman’s son, Roger Pinkelman, has been negotiating on his father’s behalf with a Kinder Morgan land agent, who surveyed the Pinkelman property in April alongside a tile expert. So Roger was surprised to discover the pipeline company recently filed for eminent domain rights on his father’s property.
He said a Kinder Morgan legal representative sent Carl Pinkelman a contract in late April or early May that offered compensation for a temporary easement onto his property on U.S. 20, and gave him 30 days to respond. At the time it arrived, Roger was still trying to iron out some minor contract issues with the land agent, including the Utopia pipeline’s location.
“I asked him, ‘Should I call a lawyer or do I keep talking to you?’” Roger said. The land agent assured him their negotiations should continue.
“As far I as I know, I’m still negotiating,” he said Friday.
He said his father, Carl Pinkelman, already has three pipelines installed in the 1950s and 1960s running through a corner of his property, and does not want another.
“He’s not happy, but he also understands he can’t stop it. He’s trying to get the best situation out of it for him,” Roger said. “He wants to make sure that the damage is minimized as regards to tile and drainage. I want to get it resolved for them as best as we can.”
He said he hasn’t read Kinder Morgan’s filing against his father, so he’ll continue negotiating with the land agent for the present.
Sara Hughes, a corporate spokesperson for Kinder Morgan, confirmed the condemnation petitions were filed. She said the company is seeking easements approximately 100 feet wide during pipeline construction and 50 feet wide when necessary afterward for maintenance and access to the pipe.
According to Hughes, property owners will retain almost every use of their land including farming and other surface activities.
“The use of eminent domain ensures that negotiations provide for fair compensation for our right to use part of the landowner’s property,” she said. “This legal process takes time. We make these filings in the event that ongoing negotiations do not progress with a particular landowner. At that point, we can pursue our legal remedies in a timely manner and preserve our scheduling commitments to our customers.”
The filings are a cautionary step in the process, Hughes said. She believes most landowners will come to an agreement with Kinder Morgan before court intervention becomes necessary. She said the company views itself as a guest on landowners’ property.
“We continue to look for mutually beneficial solutions that provide minimal impacts to the landowners and surrounding areas,” Hughes said. “(T)his process of using eminent domain authority is how we move forward in our discussions to establish fair compensation for the right to use that land.”
None of the other recipients of the condemnation petitions could be reached for comment.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.