Easement dispute with Enbridge ends in arrestJeremy Engelking will appear in Douglas County court at 1:30 p.m. today to face a trespassing charge. Here’s the kicker: He was cited for the violation without ever leaving his own property in Superior.
By: By Peter Passiemail@example.com/Maria Lockwoodfirstname.lastname@example.org, Superior Telegram
Jeremy Engelking will appear in Douglas County court at 1:30 p.m. today to face a trespassing charge. Here’s the kicker: He was cited for the violation without ever leaving his own property in Superior.
The 27-year-old man was going out to hunt deer last Wednesday morning when he noticed a work crew installing a new pipeline for Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. on his property. He rode his ATV over to the trench and shouted down to the workers about 10 a.m.
“I told them I didn’t want the pipe to be put in because I hadn’t been paid for an easement across my property,” Engelking said.
Workers told Engelking he was not standing in a safe place and asked him to come around to a staging area on the other side of the trench. He complied and continued his conversation in this designated area
Engelking said he talked to a right-of-way agent there, and at about 11 a.m. the Enbridge representative agreed to pull workers off the job until the easement issue could be resolved.
But just as Engelking said he was turning to leave, an officer from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene and approached with a Taser pointed directly at him.
“He ordered me to: Get down on the ground now! And he said that I was being arrested for trespassing,” Engelking said.
When Engelking protested, pointing out that he was on his own property, he said the officer told him: “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to jail. You can tell it to a judge tomorrow.”
Engelking said after placing him in handcuffs, Sgt. Robert Smith, chided him for “trying to stop a multi-million-dollar project.”
Engelking’s ATV was impounded following his arrest, and his cased rifle was seized as evidence. He was released later that afternoon, after posting a $200 bail bond. He reclaimed his rifle but had to pay about another $100 to recover his impounded ATV.
In a subsequent report, Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Knutson said Michael Bradburn, the lead right-of-way agent for Enbridge, told him that Engelking “had parked his ATV in front of their equipment, stopping workers.”
But Engelking said it was never his intent to physically block workers or their equipment. He pointed out that he came around to the area where the equipment was positioned at the company’s request.
Lorraine Grymala, a community affairs manager for Enbridge, said access to work sites is restricted in the interest of safety.
“We can’t have people in the right of way without an escort and the proper gear,” she said. “People could get hurt.”
Jeremy Engleking and his father, Jerry Engleking, who owns 200 acres next door to his son, have had a long-running disagreement with Enbridge, dating back to the company’s last pipeline expansion in 2002. Jerry Engelking said that he refused to sign off on changes proposed to the original 1949 easement agreement across his property because he felt the revised document put too many restrictions on how he could use neighboring property in the future. That first easement said any future pipes laid along the same route would be predicated on additional payments being made to affected property owners.
According to court documents from the Sept. 25 hearing, Enbridge sent a $15,000 check to Barbara and Gerald Engleking, and also tried to hand-deliver payments, but the couple refused to accept them.
Engleking acknowledged that Enbridge repeatedly offered him money to sign a revised lease agreement. But to claim the money he would have had to broaden the scope of the existing easement across his property, so he turned the checks down.
When the latest pipeline project came along, the Engelkings again refused to modify the original 1949 right-of-way agreement.
The family filed a petition and complaint for a temporary and permanent restraining order against Enbridge on Sept. 24.
Douglas County Circuit Court Judge George Glonek granted a temporary injunction but lifted it the following day and upheld Enbridge’s claim to a valid easement.
Officers have had no similar incidents along the path of the Enbridge pipeline construction, said Lt. Gerald Moe of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
Grymala said Enbridge has worked with approximately 1,500 landowners as part of the pipeline project.
“We recognize construction is an inconvenience to people; people want access to their land,” she said. “We strive to be respectful of that, to have a good working relationship.”