LUMBERTON — The plaintiffs in the hearing about a conditional-use permit issued one year ago to the builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are not seeking a monetary award, the plaintiff’s attorney said Tuesday.
They want to ensure their rights are protected and seek a thorough review of the documents and records from the permit’s issuance on Aug. 7, 2017, said Sean Cecil, an attorney with the Raleigh law firm of Edelstein & Payne. He said they also want to know that the county commissioners weren’t improperly influenced by outside parties before they decided to issue the permit to build a metering station and 350-foot tower near Prospect that would service the $5 billion, 600-mile pipeline that would carry natural gas from West Virginia to a point near Pembroke.
“A board member who has had contact with an outside party must disclose that fact,” Cecil said.
The plaintiffs also want to ensure that the permit wasn’t issued in violation of a Robeson County zoning ordinance stating a proposed construction project shall not hurt the community, he said.
Judge Richard Brown could rule Thursday when the hearing in Courtroom 2C at the Robeson County Courthouse continues. The hearing’s second day came to an end about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Gary Locklear, interim Robeson County attorney, confirmed that no rulings were issued during Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted about two hours.
“He didn’t rule on anything, as a matter of fact,” Locklear said.
The plaintiffs have filed motions in an attempt to have a new public hearing regarding the conditional-use permit, Locklear said. They want witnesses to speak under oath about the findings of fact and conclusions related to the building of the metering station and the tower the builders of the ACP want to construct near Prospect.
“That would be a free-for-all,” Locklear said.
It also would cost the county more money, he said.
Locklear agreed with Cecil that the hearings are about the permit, not the pipeline.
“Nothing we do in this hearing will stop the pipeline,” Locklear said.
There are other issues, said Robie Goins, one of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit. One of them is that members of the public didn’t get to speak against issuance of the permit and share their concerns with the commissioners.
Goins and his brother Dwayne own property where the proposed pipeline is to end near Pembroke.
“The issue is that the public didn’t get to talk to commissioners,” Robie Goins said. “Only one party was allowed to talk. They gave them their reports, their data and their information. They failed to allow documentation supporting our concerns, being health issues.”
He and his neighbors are concerned about the health effects the tower and regulating system may have on them, Robie Goins said. Having the station and tower in the Prospect community will prevent the construction of new homes and businesses should the residents decide that is what they want to do.
“It’s not in harmony with our community, which are local farms and homes,” Goins said. “Now they want to make it more of an industrial site in the heart of Prospect.”