NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage
Tree appraisal for the Line MB Extension Project
Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity under Section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Line MB Extension Project (Project). The Project will extend an existing natural gas transmission pipeline (Line MB) approximately 21.1 miles from Owings Mills, Maryland toFallston, Maryland. The study area was an area containing approximately 3.28 acres of proposed forest clearing associated with construction of Phase 3 of the project.
Columbia Gas, by way of its Consulting Forester, received an appraisal of approximately $25,000 for the value of the trees to be removed in the study area.
Columbia Gas also received an appraisal of approximately $1,000,000 for the same trees. That appraisal wasperformed by a consultant for the landowner.
Our assignment was to:
- Visit the site;
- Review the two above-referenced appraisals;
- Opine as to the methods used and appraisals derived in each; and,
- Perform our own appraisal of the subject trees.
The desired outcome was to find a reasonable compensation for the loss of trees in the project area.
Our approach included the following:
- We visited the site;
- We reviewed the two consultant reports and compared them with known methods of field data collection and tree appraisal, including the Council of Tree & Landscape Appraisers Guide for Plant Appraisal;
- We reviewed the environmental evaluation report submitted to the county for the project;
- We researched Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation records; and,
- We discussed the project with county reviewers.
We employed the Cost Approach, Cost of Cure Method to perform our appraisal.
The opined that the trees to be removed had a value of approximately $25,000 as forest products, as asserted by the consulting forester, and that the property owners are due that amount.
We also opined that as land in question was subject to a forest conservation easement held by the county, and that the terms of that easement including mitigation rates are provided in law, regulation, and policy, that the mitigation (cure) was due to the county rather than the property owner. That cure was estimated to cost between $49,000 and $72,000 according to published mitigation costs per acre.