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Saturday, November 1, 2014

So much for scenic tranquility.

“I don’t want to take the deed to my property that I’ve been paying off for 30 years and put it on a roulette wheel.”

"Mark and Malinda Clatterbuck (pictured here) live adjacent to the Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve in a home largely built by her father. As a child, Malinda and her sister plucked rocks from the Tucquan Creek, which her dad used in the exterior. Friday morning, a goldfinch darted past the living room picture window, which offered an expansive view of an adjacent hillside. Atop that hillside, an Oklahoma company could cut down scores of trees in order to construct a 42-inch natural gas pipeline. So much for scenic tranquility. Like other residents in the path of the proposed pipeline, the Clatterbucks oppose Williams Partners’ Central Penn Line South project. The opposition is motivated by safety and environmental concerns — and worries about how a pipeline might impact the property values of those in its way.

Williams is now mulling alternate routes for the pipeline; it may not cross the Clatterbucks’ property. Even if it does, the Clatterbucks have no plans to move. But if they wanted or needed to, they fear they’d have a tough time selling. “If I was a buyer interested in this property, the price sounds right, then I find out there’s a pipeline on it — to me, that’s it. I have no interest,” Mark Clatterbuck said. And even interested buyers, he worries, could have a tough time getting a mortgage or insurance. On social media, pipeline foes are buzzing about an email from a Wells Fargo loan officer who told one area resident that the bank didn’t loan money for properties that included pipelines. In an interview last week, a Wells Fargo spokesman denied that claim, but acknowledged that “these loans often require additional research and documentation before an approval can be given.” Some local lenders agreed: It’s not that they’d automatically reject such a loan, but a pipeline might lead the bank to view the property, and a mortgage, as riskier than most.

Opponents also worry about insurance. The Clatterbucks say their agent told them that if the pipeline is built along that ridge, they’d need commercial insurance — and their company doesn’t offer it.“I’m sure we could get it from another company,” Malinda Clatterbuck said. But she wonders what that would cost."