Dear Friends of the Roanoke Regional Community,
Now that MVP has stepped up their spring campaign to gain access to private properties along their current route, we are beginning to hear reports of their subcontractors tasked with surveying tracks of land with permission of the owner, have actually been caught in the act of surveying land for which access has been denied by the owner.
Fire in Franklin
In April, a MVP contract survey crew member’s cigarette resulted in a fire on private properties in Franklin County. MVP representatives apologized. Accidents happen, right? That’s just the cost of doing business, right? How can MVP be trusted in other things they say and do?
Hold their feet to the fire
In Virginia, this entering of private property after permission to do so has been denied is criminal trespass. Obviously, if we allow this action by MVP agents to continue unchallenged they will continue to do so. They may subscribe to the old adage that its easier to get forgiveness than permission. We should not let MVP get away with this. They must be held accountable for their actions.
According to Aaron Ruby with Capital Results, LLC (the Richmond based PR firm contracted by EQT to serve on the Roanoke County Pipeline Advisory Committee on behalf of Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC), there are 7 different survey company contractors working in Virginia and West Virginia. In Roanoke, local residents have witnessed survey crew team contractors from Michigan, Colorado, and Utah.
What can I do if I see surveyors in my area?
Start calling whomever necessary to make the landowner aware of the situation. Get to know your neighbors. Hopefully the landowner will call the appropriate law enforcement agency and ask for assistance with ejecting the trespassers, and filing a criminal complaint for criminal trespass.
If you suspect the survey teams are on private property without permission, record this in some way (video or photograph). Try to determine the name of the survey company and feel free to ask for name(s) of survey crew members (they should carry business cards and identification — there is no harm in asking). Survey vehicles are often marked with logo; take note of VIN.
Please pass the facts of the situation to Preserve Roanoke’s Landowner Committee organizers so it can logged and shared with others. We also have media contacts who will help us get the word out. We must make a wider citizenry aware of the pipeline company’s lack of credibility in these cases and request their help in putting pressure on officials.
What can landowners do to protect their private property from MVP surveyors?
Post your property with No Trespassing Signs. We have laminated signs available, or you can print your own from this downloadable image:
Send a certified letter to MVP’s project manager, Coates Field Services. If you have not denied access in writing (via Certified mail), MVP will assume you have granted permission. If you authorized surveyors previously, you have the right to rescind permission. In any case, simply fill out applicable letter template and follow instructions provided. You can download the template as a PDF here:
Keep watch. Ask questions.
Several local residents told us about their personal encounters with survey crews in recent weeks. They stopped by to observe the crew at work (and with a camera), and when they questioned crew members about whether they actually have permission, it has often resulted in the survey crew packing up and leaving. (Perhaps they aren’t so confident about whether they’re allowed to be there after all.) If the surveyors tell you they have permission, don’t take their word for it. Contact the landowner directly.
Press charges for trespassing
When residents of our community begin pressing charges for trespassing, MVP be forced to comply with the law. Private property should be respected and protected. It’s time to implement the Neighborhood Watch program. Be a good neighbor. Keep an eye out for trespassers and report all incidents to police immediately.
Authenticate Videos & Photographs
If you can, photograph or video the surveyors and their vehicles. Try to include license plate numbers and company signage on vehicles. State your name, date, time, address or general location as you continue rolling the video recording. There is no need to narrate the entire video. (Remember, this may used as official evidence.) Do not edit or alter files. If you don’t have video capabilities, use a camera. Document the date, time and location. If you have questions about how to save the files, contact us.
Need landowner packets or signs?
Preserve Roanoke Landowner Packets, laminated No Trespassing Signs, and 18″x24″ colorplast Yard Signs are available. Send your request to PreserveRoanoke@gmail.com.
Preserve Roanoke members will work to seek guidance to address these concerns and others. There is strength in numbers. Join us!