In an easement dispute regarding construction of an asphalt roadway over two gas pipelines, and following a bench trial, the pipelines’ operator is entitled to declaratory relief prohibiting the developer’s planned roadway.
The proposed crossing, if constructed without mitigation measures, would constitute a material encumbrance that unreasonably interferes with the gas company’s lawful right to safely maintain and repair its pipelines, thus rendering its easement less useful and less convenient. The crossing would cause irreparable harm in the form of a material encroachment that threatens physical harm to the pipelines, risks the public safety, and compromises not only the gas company’s ability to repair the damage caused by vehicular traffic, but also compromises its ability to safely transmit an uninterrupted supply of natural gas to the Tidewater region.
Moreover, the gas company’s bargained-for easement rights as the dominant estate holder, as well as the public interest in safeguarding underground high-pressure natural gas transmission lines, vastly outweigh the developer’s interest in saving money.
Motion for injunctive and declaratory relief granted.