Pipeline opponents confront survey crews on Bent Mountain

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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) When members of a Mountain Valley Pipeline survey team pulled over on the side of Route 221 Wednesday morning, pipeline opponents weren't far behind.

They attempted to block the path onto neighboring property with a banner that read, "We Cherish. We Will Defend Water Land."

Eddie Conner lives on his family's property nearby.

"I'm just a small portion of everyone in the community that's losing time from work and their vacation and from their family and their normal lives over what I'm calling legalized thievery," Conner said Wednesday afternoon. "They're doing what they want with your land, and you can't do anything about it."

Later, the survey team moved a short distance to the intersection with Montuori Way.

There they set up some of their equipment, and went to work, but opponents questioned whether they had provided proper notice.

Roanoke County Police arrived, checked IDs and spoke with both sides.

The surveyors eventually packed up and left, though it wasn't clear if they had completed their work, or were putting it off for another day.

Kathy E. Chandler is a Bent Mountain homeowner.

"It's troubling, because I've never experienced the need to defend my borders as an every day citizen," Chandler said. "All of my coming and going on a notice day becomes a situation of alert and defense."

A recent ruling in Roanoke circuit court upheld MVP's right to survey other land on Bent Mountain.

And a spokesperson says the company is confident it has the legal authority to access the properties, and plans to continue the work in accordance with Virginia law.

Opponents are challenging that authority in cases headed for the Virginia Supreme Court.

Survey teams are expected on Bent Mountain Thursday. Pipeline opponents plan to be there as well.

Following is the complete statement from Mountain Valley Pipeline:

"The importance of conducting these survey activities cannot be emphasized enough, as this work is designed to evaluate and help determine a route with the least overall impact on the environment, landowners, and cultural and historic resources. MVP remains committed to working with each and every landowner along the proposed route to address their individual concerns and minimize the impact of this project on their property and daily lives. This environmental survey work is one of the most important ways we can do that. The MVP project team remains confident that we have the legal authority under Virginia statute to access property for survey activity and expects to continue this important survey work in accordance with the strict requirements of Virginia law. "