Vonore community celebrates rerouting of natural gas pipeline

VONORE (WATE) – A group of people in Vonore are celebrating after a proposed natural gas pipeline will not be cutting through their property as originally planned.

A proposed natural gas pipeline caught the wrath of residents who live along a section of Highway 72 in Monroe County. They opposed the route because it would have crossed land that goes back generations.

The pipeline company held a meeting in may to hear resident’s concerns, and the energy company listened. The route of the pipeline has been reconfigured.

Previous story: Vonore residents fight gas pipeline expansion project

Barry Duckett is pleased that his property along Highway 72 will not be split in half. The natural gas pipeline had been scheduled to run down the center of his yard in the Lovin Farm community. Red flags at a dozen other homes in the Vonore neighborhood marked the path of the Loudon Expansion Project, a natural gas pipeline.

“All the people who stuck together in this community, we finally prevailed in this one,” said Duckett.

In Loudon, manufacturing company Tate and Lyle plans to convert from existing coal to natural gas. East Tennessee Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy already has an existing pipeline. The easement runs through the cut in these trees which is about a quarter of mile on the other side of Highway 72 from Lovin Farms.

The path of the proposed pipeline would bypass the Rarity Bay community where there is already a smaller gas line running under the golf course.

Duckett and four of his neighbors said in early May they don’t want the pipeline running through their property, but if they didn’t agree to easement negotiations, they were told they could lose a portion of their property under eminent domain.

“When we’re identifying these routes, we try to utilize existing corridors as much as possible. In the event that it’s not, we try to get on those easements as quickly as possible,” said Devin Hotzel with Spectra Energy.

Homeowners from the Lovin Farm community gave engineers from Spectra Energy and East Tennessee Natural Gas Company an earful at a public meeting on May 11. Gas company representatives answered questions and showed residents where the proposed pipeline will run, promising they’d listen to everyone.

A notice from Spectra Energy that arrived last week was good news for homeowners. “This letter is to notify you that your property is no longer impacted by the project,” read the letter.

Neighbors rejoiced. The change in plans means longtime resident Jerry Boone will be able to build on her property. It also means the end of a six month dispute between Dee and Larry Duckett and the energy company.

“I’m just relieved. We had some plans for our property, plans for our home. We couldn’t move forward on that. Now we can,” said Dee Duckett.

The pipeline will now bypass homes in the Lovin Farm community. Instead, the line will run across Highway 72 on TVA property and the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s right-of-way.

“We’re just glad we were able to win and they’re going on the other side of the road with the pipeline,” said resident Mike Strickland.

“Now we get to keep our property, Tate and Lyle still gets their gas, the golf course doesn’t get interrupted. so, it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Barry Duckett.

The Ducketts removed the flag that once outlined the path of the pipeline down the middle of their property.

Construction equipment has already moved into location to begin the Loudon Expansion Project. Spectra Energy says the line is expected to be finished within a year.

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