Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
Beth and Bob Duman found out about Line 6B as they were signing the papers to close on their dream house.
It had passive solar heat, wood heat, mature trees, a way station for Monarch butterflies, flower gardens and plenty of room for Beth to run her dog training business. It was the home they wanted and the pipeline didn’t seem to be an issue.
About 3 years ago, Beth noticed a man at the end of the driveway talking to her husband. It was a Right of Way agent. “Within five minutes he was threatening us with condemnation,” Beth recalls.
Soon after that, she noticed a legal ad in the newspaper announcing a public hearing on changes to the pipeline. She called the Michigan Public Service Commission and was told that there was no need to attend the meeting. She was told that people generally didn’t show up for the public meetings. She went anyway. Enbridge wanted to replace the existing line with a bigger line to handle more oil. And they needed more right of way.
The Duman’s felt bullied. They were threatened with condemnation of more of their property to increase the size of the easement. They reluctantly signed a contract with the company that included restrictions on work hours, access to the back of their property, no refueling on their property, noise and dust abatement, among other things.
“They violated everything,” Bob said. “They said they’d give notice but no. No notice at all. I woke up one morning, came out of the shower and there they were pulverizing our trees and cutting our fences. It took them a month to build a ramp so we could get to our woodpile. (the main source of heat for the house.) Trucks were behind the house blocking access to the backyard, the barn, and the woodpile. They took the top soil off the yard and violated the work hours,” Bob explained. “They were in our yard for 9-10 months and they originally said it would be 4-6 weeks.”
“The Maps (Enbridge) submitted to the Michigan Public Service Commission for siting the pipeline were 40 years old and showed no houses. Maps were from 1969-70. It was deceiving,” Bob said. “We learned that they lie,” Beth echoed.
The Duman’s needed their fence fixed. Beth is both a wolf specialist and dog trainer. She has conducted wolf education programs in Michigan since 1972 and has been the Michigan representative for Wolf Park since 1974. She needs a fence.
They submitted estimates from a local fencing company to Enbridge. The company said it had its own contractor who would contact them. Weeks later the same fencing contractor who gave them the original estimate, showed up, fixed the fence and charged Enbridge more than the earlier estimate.
Bob and Beth waited until four days before the condemnation deadline then made the best deal they could. Like many homeowners, they’ve signed non-disclosure agreements with Enbridge and can’t disclose their final settlement. It wasn’t enough to cover the costs of a new well, deck, and replacement trees. “They basically ignored all the estimates we gave them,” according to the couple. “They didn’t give us the value to replace it. Our quality of life in our backyard is gone,” Beth said.