The jungle book

Legal challenge slows broadband plans in rural Virginia | Crime and courts


An employee of the Rappahannock electrical cooperative threads a fiber optic cable. REC is being sued by the owners of a farm in Culpeper County, John and Cynthia Grano, who claim their property rights have been violated.


NED OLIVER The Virginia Mercury

RICHMOND – Supporters are calling this a sane way to get high-speed internet to more homes in rural Virginia. A couple in Culpeper County call this an unconstitutional violation of their property rights.

The fight, which has already halted a $ 600 million broadband expansion project, doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

At stake is a 2020 law allowing electric and communications utilities to thread fiber along their existing poles, lines and conduits – a vast network of infrastructure that already crosses mountains, fields and woods. remote areas where the state hopes to attract residents and businesses connected to high-speed internet by 2024.

The legislation allows utility companies to avoid the hassle and expense of negotiating with landowners along roads, who would otherwise be entitled to compensation for the additional use of their property, even if they don’t. it’s just a new strand of wire on a pole that’s been there for decades.

The law was passed with near unanimous bipartisan support, but when the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative attempted to invoke the provisions, it was sued by Culpeper County farm owners John and Cynthia Grano.

The land, where the couple raises horses and cattle, is crossed by two power transmission lines and a local distribution line. It also houses an electrical substation.


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