Talking Points for Letters: Landowners’ Right-of-Way Issues

  1. Land use: The land may be used for most residential, commercial, or agricultural purposes provided this usage does not interfere with the safe operation, maintenance, inspection, and repair of the pipeline or obstruct access to and along the right of way. All usage must have the written permission of the pipeline company.
  2. Width of Right of Way: 75’ – ROW must remain open
  3. Permanent structures cannot be placed on the right of way/easement because they obstruct access and impair the Company’s ability to safely operate and maintain the pipeline. These include: Buildings, Houses, Trailers, Mobile homes, Poles, Decks, Tool sheds, Trees, Shrubs, Garages, Swimming pools (neither above ground nor below ground), Septic tanks and leach fields (septic tank drain/distribution lines), or other structures that obstruct or impede access to the right of way. Maintenance is allowable by helicopter or plane over flight or by walking land crews. So you’ll never be alone.
  4. Excavation is not allowed within the pipeline’s right of way without Company’s representative present. All excavation work within two feet of the pipeline must be performed by hand, directly over and under pipelines, with a Company representative present, who will determine the safe digging distance.
  5. Temporary equipment crossings may be permitted, but only with permission and costs by the landowner. To protect pipelines from external loading, the pipeline company will perform an engineering evaluation to determine the effects of any proposed equipment use, e.g., farm equipment or you want to develop your land for commercial or residential use. Mats, timber bridges or other protective materials deemed necessary by the pipeline company will be placed over pipeline facilities for the duration of any loading. Protective materials will be purchased, placed and removed at no cost to the pipeline company, i.e., the landowner will have to bear the cost to gain access to his or her own land. Again suppose a landowner or as part of the Montgomery Economic and Future Land Use Plan needs access across the pipeline. A preliminary engineering review will be performed by the pipeline company for all roads, streets, driveways, etc., proposed on the pipeline company’s right of way. A pipeline inspection prior to construction may be necessary. Driveways, highways, roads and streets crossing a pipeline facilities must cross at an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible. All crossings must be over straight pipe and at locations free of any crossovers. Parallel occupancy of the right of way is not permitted.
  6. Septic tanks, liquid disposal systems, and hazardous waste disposal systems are not allowed on the rights of way. This includes discharge from sewage disposal systems, the discharge of any hydrocarbon substance, the discharge or disposal of any regulated waste, or any other discharge that may prove damaging or corrosive to the pipeline. So there goes your plans to develop your property.
  7. Deep Plowing. Deep Plowing (>16”) is not permitted. We are not farmers, but we checked with the extension service and found tillage for corn is typically 5-8’ with 8’12” required for soils that are heavy textured, poorly drained, cold, or compacted by heavy equipment.
  8. Landscaping in the vicinity of the pipeline is limited to lawn and low-growing (less than five feet tall at maturity), shallow-rooted shrubbery. Planting of shrubbery is not permitted closer than five feet on either side of each pipeline. Trees are not permitted.
  9. Installation of pipeline markers is mandated by federal law to assist in identifying the location of pipeline facilities. Landowners should ensure that all temporary and permanent pipeline markers installed by the pipeline company are protected and maintained at all times during construction. Permanent markers damaged or removed by landowners will be replaced by the pipeline company at the landowner’s expense. Work will not be allowed to commence until sufficient pipeline markers are in place
  10. Pipeline companies maintain clear pipeline rights of way to ensure that its operations remain as safe as possible. For regular maintenance or during emergency situations, the pipeline company must have unrestricted entry and access to all of its facilities at all times. A clear right of way provides easy identification and monitoring of pipeline facilities, which is imperative in preventing third-party damage. “Pipeline personnel shall have access to the right-of-way 24 hours every day.” Fences and gates across the pipeline impeding inspection are only permitted by permission of the pipeline company. Inspections may be by personnel walking the pipeline and/or by aircraft.
  11. Fence posts shall not be installed within four feet of any pipeline. The pipeline company may require hand digging for fence posts installed within the pipeline’s right of way. Generally, fences must cross the pipeline at no less than a 30 degree angle. All fences require approval of the pipeline company.