The Atmos Pipeline continues to expand, often using existing easements. Landowner Condemnation Rights Attorney Philip Hundl explains how this works in this video. Call or text 800-266-4870 for an appointment. Appointments can be in-person, online, or by phone. We can also give you a no-obligation case evaluation if you fill out this short form and send it to us.
Summary of Atmos Pipeline Expansion Using Existing Easements
Hi, I’m Philip Hundl. I’m an attorney practicing in Texas with a focus on land litigation, representing landowners facing condemnation cases. My practice also focuses on representing undivided interest owners dividing property in partition suits.
What I’d like to talk today about is Atmos Energy using existing easements for new pipelines. I’m getting lots of calls related to Atmos Energy Company or Corporation. I’m seeing getting these calls from landowners all throughout the state including Ector County, Collin County, Archer County, Parker County, even Brazos County, College Station.
Atmos has a lot of activity going on. They’re installing new pipelines, replacing old pipelines, and relocating pipelines. Primarily, they’re using existing pipeline easements. So we’re seeing clients who are landowners who are unaware of these existing easement agreements burdening their land.
They are unaware until they get a knock on the door or a call from Atmos. Typically, it’s the Atmos in-house right-of-way agents who contact them. The right-of-way agents tell the landowners to expect crews on their property within a few days. Soon the pipeline company can be ripping up existing trees, destroying landscaping, breaking up sidewalks, and removing children’s playsets next to their house to install new lines or relocate pipelines.
Be Familiar with the Easements that Burden Your Property
I want to bring this issue to your attention if you own land. Be very familiar with the easements that possibly burden the property.
If you’re thinking about purchasing property, definitely be aware of existing easements before you close the deal on the land. You should be aware of existing easements that affect your property.
Now, a lot of these existing easements weren’t with Atmos. They were with pipeline companies long ago, that have then possibly been assigned to Atmos. So, that’s the very first thing we always ask Atmos. Show us why you believe you have an easement on the landowner’s property. We want them to produce that existing easement agreement that they think gives them the authority to come on the property and start working.
Oftentimes, we’ll get this very old 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s easement agreement that they say applies to the landowner’s land. Back in the 1920s and 30s, that easement may have been acquired over a 2,000-acre ranch. Now the 2,000-acre ranch has been subdivided and sold off over time, and you’ve got landowners with five acres or10 acres. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a blanket easement over the whole property for multiple lines.
An Experienced Landowners’ Attorney Can Help You Understand the Easement and Its implications
So we start by looking at the old easement agreement that the pipeline company claims applies to the land. Then we look at what the existing easement agreement says. What are the provisions? What are the rights of the pipeline company, and what are the rights retained by the landowner? Does it mention multiple lines, plural, or single lines? Does it provide for a specific easement width, or say that no additional space can be used by the pipeline company?
Also, what does it say about damages? If the landowner’s damaged due to subsequent activity, operation, or maintenance of the pipeline by the grantee, in this case, Atmos, then what are Atmos’ obligations to the landowner?
I bring this to your attention because once again there’s quite a bit of activity right now related to Atmos. This new activity can be new pipelines, replacement lines, or the relocation of lines. Maybe the first pipeline was a three-inch, four-inch, or six-inch line, and now they’re coming back in with an 18-inch line, a much larger line. Oftentimes, these pipelines are located extremely close to houses, improvements, barns, and whatever.
So, if you’re a landowner being contacted by a pipeline company, in this situation, Atmos, then be aware that you’ve got rights. Be aware that you need to ask questions and get more information from Atmos. If you’re not getting the information you need, then you should get help from an attorney who specializes in this type of work. Your attorney should review the easement agreement, interpret it, and give you explanations of your rights that you understand.
Phillip Hundl was excellent to work with. We feel that he was very fair and very knowledgeable. We felt he treated us with respect and helped us the best way possible. Will definitely continue to use him for all of our needs.
Get the Legal Help You Need to Defend Your Rights
You should talk with an experienced landowner condemnation rights attorney to learn what your rights are as a landowner. Call or text 800-266-4870 for an appointment with Attorney Philip Hundl. Appointments can be in-person, online, or by phone.
We have offices in Wharton County, Matagorda County, and Fort Bend County and clients all over Texas.