As new and additional pipeline projects are undertaken in Pennsylvania, many property owners are being confronted with a situation with which they have little to no prior experience. This often takes the form of a pipeline company representative approaching the property owner seeking to purchase an easement across the property owner's land. During this process, the land agents will often claim that the pipeline will have no or only a minimal impact on the property and its value. We caution property owners to be wary of these statements and representations. Experience has reflected that pipelines can impact property values in a number of ways. One possible way is that a pipeline can lower the fair market value of a property. In some cases, the pipeline can have a significant impact on the property's value. Second, the pipeline can limit the property owner in utilizing the property in the future. By way of example, if the easement were to cut through the center of a vacant lot, it may render the lot no longer usable for development. In addition, if a pipeline runs through the center of a back yard, it may prevent the property owner from adding an addition to an existing residence and/or installing a pool. Third, pipelines can potentially limit the number of individuals who may be willing to purchase the property in the future. On this basis, we suggest that property owners carefully consider any offer which is made to them by a pipeline company before accepting the offer.
By definition, a pipeline right-of-way is a strip of land over and around a natural gas pipeline where some of the rights relative to the land have been granted to a pipeline operator. This is generally documented in a right-of-way agreement (also known as an easement) between the pipeline company and the property owner. The easement is usually filed in the County Registrar and Recorder's office along with the deed to the property. The easement gives the pipeline company an interest in the property although, depending on the type of easement, it may be permanent or temporary.