Comments now enabled
Happy New Year,

I have finally had the time enable comments on this page. I guess that means we have joined the blogosphere......whoopee.

I recently stumbled on an article in Reston Community Newspaper dated Nov 29th, 2006. You can find it in pdf form on the Articles NVA page or here.
Reston is one of the communities just down the line (pipeline) from us. It appears that the publicity and attention they have received since mutilating our neighborhood may be ameliorating their actions in Reston. Then again it may be that the Reston Association has a lot more clout than the 20 or so homeowners in our neighborhood directly affected.

Boehringer said the Reston
Association had been concerned about what form the vegetation control might take because they had seen the work Columbia recently did in Herndon. There, she said, any part of a tree that was within a certain distance of the pipeline had been removed. "What you're left with is like acid rain fell on everything, and it looked awful," she said, adding that some trees had been removed while others were left nearly limbless. 
"There was a big uproar in Herndon, and we benefited from that, I think," said Boehringer, adding that the company had so far cooperated readily with the community.

I think it is important to realize that, whatever change Columbia makes in their treatment of our community, it is motivated more by the backlash from what they have done so far, than any corporate epiphany.

And as far as hedges, they do not have any inherent 'right' to cut them. In fact according to our easement the pipeline is supposed to be 'maintained below cultivation' so we could grow corn or sunflowers for that matter. My dad's beans were on stalks over 5 feet high. If it doesn't interfere with the operation of a pipeline the easement language should determine their rights. Just because it is cheaper to do aerial survey does not make it necessary or better.

In Texas a pipeline company lost a case to remove a large tree on their easement. The court found the tree did not prevent them from inspecting the pipeline and they were flying their easement 2-3 time a week. I suspect that if Columbia were to fly over enough to have a reasonable chance of catching someone digging near the pipeline, the probability of that airplane crashing in a crowded neighborhood would outweigh any possible benefit.

What really concerns me is that they may be substituting the aerial survey for another more effective inspection just because it is more 'efficient'. It is my understanding that the pipeline operator has a lot of leeway in how they inspect their lines, this creates a conflict between corporate profits and public safety that I think is unwise. Judging from the way they treated our neighborhood and the easement at the Potomac, their bottom line outweighs the welfare of the community.