Judges rule on Entrega issues | CraigDailyPress.com

Judges rule on Entrega issues

Christina M. Currie

Fifty of the 52 landowners on the first 132-mile stretch of the Entrega Pipeline project have negotiated agreements with pipeline officials. A Denver attorney was in district court this week seeking possession of the final two.

Both are in Moffat County.

The first of the two involved a case where the property has 13 owners, all of whom could not be located. Moffat County District Court Judge Mary Lynne James ruled that Entrega could take possession of the property, but required the company to deposit $36,000 in an account.

If the landowners and pipeline officials can come to an agreement on the value of the pipeline’s easement, they’re done. If not, a hearing will have to be held with a judge determining the final amount. That doesn’t necessarily have to equal $36,000.

The second case, heard Friday afternoon, involved a piece of property owned by three people, one of whom did not respond to any communications from the company. Of the other two, one attended the hearing via speaker phone and her brother, Don Nutting, was there in person.

Neither said she opposed the construction of the pipeline. Nutting said after the hearing that his step-father had purchased the property as an investment and he didn’t think the offer of slightly more than $1,000 for 1.6 acres of easement reflected a good return on the investment. “He insisted instead of the easement he wanted to sell the property or convey a lease,” said Don Ostrander, attorney for Entrega.

Ostrander said Entrega offered Nutting and his sister each $4,000 if they settled without going to court. He said Friday that that would have saved his time and that of company officials called to testify. The easement has an appraised value of $263.

He said he believes Nutting did not understand the situation.

“If that’s the agreement, I’m all for it,” he told the court.

It may be too late.

Ostrander indicated that the offer was only on the table if Nutting and his sister signed an agreement before the hearing.

James ruled in favor of Entrega, allowing them to take possession of the easement and begin construction.

She will only become involved again if the two cannot come to an agreement on price.

“Entrega now has the ability to use the property to do whatever it has to do to put a pipeline in,” James said.

Construction on phase I of the pipeline, which runs from Meeker to Wamsutter, Wyo., is expected to begin in August and run through December. Construction on Phase II, which is Wamsutter to Cheyenne, Wyo., will begin in 2006.

The entire project is still awaiting the certificate of approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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