Permies likes midwest usa and the farmer likes new pipeline going thru my property, can't plant trees or bushes, what's the cost/value for .76 acre permies
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new pipeline going thru my property, can't plant trees or bushes, what's the cost/value for .76 acre

Troy Rhodes

Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 147
As noted, I have a new 36" crude oil pipeline going through my 7 acres of eden here in michigan. I can't stop it and they have the ability to force it on me through eminent domain proceedings. But they are willing to give me some money as restitution.

For sure, I can't plant trees in the 85' wide strip. Maybe, I can do bushes, they are checking with their "expert".

Let's say I would have put in blueberry bushes, mixed brambles/rasberries, etc etc etc, but now I can't.

What is the value of what I am giving up if I can't do bushes on that .76 of an acre, per year, or for my expected lifetime of another 30 years.

The offer on the table right now is $9,000 in round figures. It's a one time payment, no annual lease money.

Thanks in advance,

Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
ok as you say you have no choice, eminent domain and all that jazz.. Where are you in Michigan I'm NE of Cadillac.

I would say wait until they are done..ask the DEPTH of the pipeline..check the soil as they are digging to see what they bring up..etc.

Then I would just go ahead and plant any perennial bushes that you want to in the area over the pipeline alonjg with some good perennial greens ..as unless there is a problem they will not be back to dig any further..I would ask what THEIR plans for after digging prep are..do they plan to put down grass seed?? I would definately intervene if they plan to do that as you probably don't want the grass seed down there, ask them to GIVE IT TO YOU rather than sow it..unless it is hydroseeded or something like that..so you could use it where you need lawn repair or whatever.

you said 85' wide..so that means that you can plant a 40 canopy tree on either side ..correct?? I would plant an avenue of the trees you want AFTER they are finished..on either side ..measure well..the canopy isn't going to affect the pipeline..but make sure they are tall enough that they can take any equipement down the line under the tree canopy to do any annual inspections or whatever.

I would suggest nut trees or standard fruit trees to keep the canopy high enough..put your food forest plants under the fruit/nut trees, like your comfrey, stinging nettles, clovers, etc..

the pipeline itself will increase drainage in the dug area, so anything that requires really good drainage should be considered for that section..but make sure it is something you are willing to lose should they come back and drive over it..something that will take a little traffic..also you should be able to graze that area if you want to..so you could put a fence along each side of the 85' alleyway with the trees outside the fence and the forges and pipeline inside the fence (a fence that has access for them for any inspection at either end) ..and you could run about any kind of domestic animals inside that 85' section after they are finished working and it has regrown..except maybe pigs that dig.

would be great for chickens, goats..etc.

try to plan around it..that 85' between trees will give you a sunny area for forbes..at least..hope it doesn't mess you up too badly..but take the $ and use it for what you want it for or at least buy some great trees for the edges.


Bloom where you are planted.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
ok just realized you didn't say BURIED>.so all I said may be a mute point..if it is above ground, you likely won't have the same options..bummer.

I still would put a row of trees outside of the 85' and maybe if you need to screen it you might consider a nice row of Jerusalem Artichokes along the sides..they grow about 10' tall and will in about 2 years screen it really nicely..plus give you a crop.

still would consider a simple fence along the sides and run animals in there if you have animals to run..but the ends might be hard to fence with a gate wide enough for their equipment if it is above ground..

sheesh..what a pain
Troy Rhodes

Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 147
It is buried.

Can't have trees in the actual easement because the roots can cause damage to the pipeline.

Can't have anything obscuring the view of the ground over the pipeline, since they fly a helicopter over the pipeline fairly often looking for problems/leaks, etc. That's why 5-6' tall bushes may not be allowed.


I'm in cass county

John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5861
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
Since you cannot stop it, try to gain from it.

If it bisects your property, perhaps you could ask them to fence it (with gates of course).
This could save you some expenses in rotational grazing infrastructure.

Check with other locals effected by this. There may even be a co-op group involved (with attorney).

From everyone I know who has had similar situations, one thing stands out: Their first offer is "an opening bid".
They generally pay more than the first offer (but usually less than your first counter offer).
They start low, and you should start high.
They are authorized to pay more than the initial offer. That's just a starting point in the bidding.

EDITED to add: In your negotiations, if they have agreed to fence it, make certain that you will also be able to graze the area inclosed by the fence.

Troy Rhodes

Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 147
Thanks for the input so far.

But the key issue is data. If I can demonstrate/argue that .76 acre, managed in permaculture blueberries, etc, can yield 5,000 pounds of blueberries per year, at a value of $5,000, I am in a much stronger negotiating position.

I have generic data for commercial blueberry production, but I'm looking per permaculture value-added information.

Finest regards,

John Alabarr

Joined: Sep 25, 2012
Posts: 45
Take their best offer, but don't go so far as to get lawyers involved. They are going to do it anyway by ED as you mentioned. I have a similar problem with a pipeline going through the property. Once a year workers come along and chop down vines growing on the fence above the pipeline. You may have to leave it as grass and just use it for grazing.
Judith Browning

Joined: Jun 21, 2012
Posts: 2084
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 stoney acidic sandy loam
I think certified organic commercial blueberry production records might carry more weight than permaculture (at the moment) for what you want to accomplish...there should be decades of documentation for you to use to show "value lost" if they won't let you grow there.
There was a natural gas pipeline through a far corner of our property when we bought it...one positive thing here is that they maintain by mechanical means instead of (like the electric company) herbicides. good luck.

"We're all just walking each other home."
Ram Dass
R Scott

Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 1839
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
Judith Browning wrote:I think certified organic commercial blueberry production records might carry more weight than permaculture (at the moment) for what you want to accomplish...there should be decades of documentation.
There was a natural gas pipeline through a far corner of our property when we bought it...one positive thing here is that they maintain by mechanical means instead of (like the electric company) herbicides. good luck.

THAT is a good point to get in the contract. I would be more worried about their ongoing maintenance style than the $$$. If you can put into the contract a no chemicals clause to maintain organic blueberries on the rest you will be in better shape long term than any extra money up front. Sometimes they will pay a "maintenance fee" to the landowner to keep it mowed/grazed. At the very least make sure they will allow grazing on the easement.

Counter with a price on the high end of reasonable--if they island off a corner of the property, you can argue they made the whole corner less productive and they usually listen. They already know what it will cost them in legal fees and schedule delays to go through ED, so that is the MAX they will pay. If you come in under that price and are otherwise reasonable, they usually are reasonable--they want it easy, too.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Pat Black

Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
The gas company has a 50 foot wide easement through my land and installed a pipeline in 1965. They drive it once or twice a year. Trees have grown up inside the easement all by themselves. As long as the gas co can drive through, they don't seem to have any issue with the trees. They could take them out if they wanted to, but that is cost prohibitive for them.

My experience is that the oil and gas people don't really give a damn where their actual easement is and will drive anywhere on your property. Consider fencing the easement prior to construction to prevent them from damaging even more of your land. You have to keep them where they belong. Unless you have posted no trespassing signs, legally they can go anywhere.

Once the pipeline is in, the only portion of the easement they really use will be the area immediately above it. So think of it as a one lane road going through there. For restoration purposes, you could toss seed balls full of adapted useful species and they would never know or care. If they are digging up rock to put the pipeline in, they will haul material for bedding the pipeline and might leave you with piles of waste rock. So be sure they agree to haul the waste rock away unless you want it.

The land value issue, well, who's to say what the highest land value would be? You could build a highrise luxury condo development on that 3/4 acre and it would be worth a heck of a lot more than a blueberry patch. So I am not so sure I can follow your logic.
Troy Rhodes

Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 147
My logic is, I'm going to develop the land with fruiting bushes, like blueberries among others. What's that worth if I am legally prevented from doing that? They will never pay more than the value of rural land, which might be, at most $10,000 per acre. The idea being, if you can't use it like you want on this acre, you could always go buy some other acre for ten grand.

Finest regards,

Rufus Laggren

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 322
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
What did you pay and/or what is that type of land worth around you? That's just a benchmark to establish a ball park if you want to. Dividing your land that way significantly reduces it's value compared to the land all in one piece useable as a whole. There are likely standard legal high and low dollar amounts assigned to this reduction in value and it would be helpful if you knew what they are. Eg. if you want to run an underground pipe or cable between your (now two) properties, you're probably buggered and that s/b reflected in the value of the easement. You _did_ want to run power to your new equipment shed on the other side, right? What about the leach field for that guest house you planned over there? They took the flattest, easiest to dig, best drained land, right?

What actually is happening (has happened) legally? Where in the process are you? Essentially the Q is what registered and otherwise official letters and documents have you received and what have you signed. What deadlines and possible extensions do you face? This is personal business and maybe you don't want to go there in public - that would be perfectly reasonable and maybe a good idea. But that's the info, the detail, that actually says (combined with knowledge of local law and prior practice) what's what and what might be.

Unless you have gone through this before and have some legal knowledge you may well not have a complete picture of what your options are and what pieces you may have to play and what their value is. Certainly the utility won't tell you of their own accord and the local politicos might not either. You're operating on some kind of info or assumptions but it may be helpful to investigate a little and make sure you're seeing the whole picture.

The comment about contacting others sounds spot on. And you can google utility-name, pipeline, eminent domain and see what pops up; add the names of the towns near the pipeline, see if anybody has stories. The comment about regulating their maintenance practices, regulating their "finishing" work, getting fences or anything else (road?) paid for also sounds right.

Best luck.

Wayne Newton

Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Posts: 18
Troy, I negotiated a pipeline across our 12 acres and received more than twice their original offer by holding out. They are usually prepared to pay more. One thing of great importance, is to to retain "exclusive right to grant access to third parties". Typically, the pipeline company will include language that grants THEM the exclusive right to sell Right Of Way to other companies. A corridor can be used for multiple pipelines. Once an easement has been established, it is considered an "Economic Corridor" and has a much increased value. You would want to make a declaration to that affect and file it with the county.

I will attempt to attach a sample of the agreement on my deal.

[Download ROW Agreement.pdf] Download

Troy Rhodes

Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 147
It is both a bit simplified, and a bit complicated by the fact that I already have one oil pipeline (and its easement) running across my property. But they want to/are adding a second bigger pipeline since the old one is aging and had a bad leak recently.

There is a group of property owners that have banded together and hired legal council, POLAR, of which I am a member.

Pretty sure I can't stop it, based on the information I have. Pretty sure the negotiations aren't over with yet...

Finest regards,

subject: new pipeline going thru my property, can't plant trees or bushes, what's the cost/value for .76 acre
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