Oakway Farms of Washington Township seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
WASHINGTON TWP. A farm has sued NEXUS Gas Transmission, saying the pipeline company caused erosion that damaged crops and washed away soil.
Oakway Farms filed the lawsuit July 10 in Stark County Common Pleas Court in Canton with a request for compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees in excess of $55,000.
Attorney Michael Thompson said Oakway Farms went to court to protect itself, “but we also need to have a message that NEXUS can’t just decide to do what they want to do without regard to the property owners.”
A NEXUS spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing company policy.
NEXUS is building a 36-inch diameter pipeline that will carry up to 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day from the Utica and Marcellus shales to users in Ohio, Michigan and Canada.
The $2.1 billion NEXUS pipeline starts near Hanoverton in Columbiana County and will connect to existing natural gas pipelines in Michigan.
Pipeline crews have been working in Washington, Nimishillen, Marlboro and Lake townships in Stark County, and the city of Green in Summit County.
Oakway Farms granted NEXUS a right-of-way and easement in December 2016 to construct the pipeline in a field on Cartway Street NE. Terms of the compensation NEXUS paid Oakway aren't in the lawsuit and will be filed with the court under seal.
Construction started early this year, and on March 29, a lawyer for Oakway Farms sent NEXUS a letter alerting the pipeline company to erosion on the farm. At the time, the damage was estimated at more than $23,000, according to the letter filed as an exhibit with the lawsuit.
NEXUS failed to fix the problem and took steps that further damaged the property, according to the complaint. In June, the company started pumping thousands of gallons of water and silt from an adjoining property onto Oakway’s land outside the easement, according to the lawsuit.
Work on the pipeline damaged Oakway’s crops and created a ditch that is more than 625 feet long, 12 feet to 25 feet in width and as deep as 2 feet or more, according to the lawsuit.
The cost to fix the damage is in excess of $25,000, the legal threshold for filing a lawsuit in Common Pleas Court, and Oakway Farms has lost crops for this growing season and will suffer reduced crop production in the future, according to the lawsuit.
The case is assigned to Judge Chryssa Hartnett
Work nearly done
In May, The Canton Repository visited Oakway Farms and owner Jim Royer showed where water had washed away topsoil and exposed the underlying clay.
“That’s money lost,” Royer said as he surveyed the damage. “All your nutrients are in your topsoil. That’s your best part of the ground.”
A visit to Cartway Street on Monday showed that much of the pipeline on and around Oakway Farms has been installed and buried.
Detroit-based DTE Energy and Enbridge, a Canadian company, are partners in the 255-mile pipeline.
In an email, NEXUS spokesman Adam Parker said the company was committed to environmentally responsible practices and used best management practices and inspectors to protect topsoil and minimize erosion and sedimentation during and after construction.
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