Charles County Board of Appeals
On March 26, 2018 DECP filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against Charles County to determine the scope of preemption (See below for details). Oral arguments were scheduled to begin on September 24th.
In April, the Charles County Board of Appeals published its formal Decision and Order to deny the special exception use for DECP's proposed Charles Compressor Station. In response, DECP filed a Motion for Reconsideration. On May 22nd the Board of Appeals again met and upheld their decision to deny giving DECP a special exception zoning permit by a 3-1 vote.
On August 3, 2018 DECP filed a Motion for a Temporary Stay, along with a memorandum explaining their reasoning (see below for details). The memorandum states that Dominion is “working with representatives from the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to explore possible alternatives for the interstate natural gas compressor facilities that are the subject of this case. If a suitable alternative is found, and any necessary regulatory approvals, including that from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), are obtained, then the compressor facilities would not be constructed at the Charles Station site at issue, and this action would be moot. Therefore, in the interest of judicial economy and avoidance of unnecessary expense by the parties, DECP moves this Court to temporarily stay this action while the efforts to reevaluate alternatives are being explored.” The memorandum goes on to state that “no later than August 31, 2018, DECP shall file with this Court a status report describing the current status of any potential relocation of the compressor facilities at issue, and stating whether, and to what extent, it believes that the stay should continue, together with supporting grounds for any requested continuation of the stay.”
On August 30th DECP filed a status report stating that the “search efforts are expected to continue for at least another 30 days, DECP believes that the hearing on the pending motions before this Court (ECF Nos. 24 & 25 [DECP Mot. for Partial Summary Judgment] and ECF No. 31 [Motion to Intervene]) scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on September 24, 2018, should be postponed for at least 30 days after the presently scheduled date.”
On September 6th the judge granted DECP’s Motion for Temporary Stay, and delayed the oral arguments scheduled for September 24, 2018, to be rescheduled at a future date if and when appropriate.
Additional Information and Resources
The site for this proposed pipeline compressor station is located within a Rural Conservation District of Charles County and is immediately adjacent to the large scenic easement area of Piscataway National Park. Dominion Energy Cove Point LNG (DECP) applied for a special exception to the zoning laws to rezone their 50-acre property from rural conservation to industrial. AMP Creeks Council took a leadership role in opposing the proposed Charles Compressor Station, engaging lawyers and experts in those efforts. On March 13th the Charles County Board of Appeals denied DECP the zoning special exception they required to build the compressor station on the Barrys Hill Rd site.
The commissioners made their decision based on a number of issues, the greatest being very serious safety concerns: The area has no pressurized water, only volunteer fire departments and the road is very narrow. These facts, in combination with the heightened risk of fire and explosions at compressor stations, make for a very dangerous situation. In addition to serious safety concerns, Charles County will receive very little, if any, benefit for taking all of these risks, as it appears doubtful that any of this natural gas will reach Charles County residents. DECP activity on the Barrys Hill Rd site in late September 2018 further confirmed the connection to DECP’S Cove Point liquefaction facility and the fact that gas pressurized at this site is going to foreign markets rather than Maryland.