A. Whenever a certificate is required pursuant to § 56-265.2 for the construction of a pipeline for the transmission or distribution of manufactured or natural gas, the Commission shall consider the effect of the pipeline on the environment, public safety, and economic development in the Commonwealth, and may establish such reasonably practical conditions as may be necessary to minimize any adverse environmental or public safety impact. In such proceedings, the Commission shall receive and consider all reports by state agencies concerned with environmental protection; and, if requested by any county or municipality in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed, local comprehensive plans that have been adopted pursuant to Article 3 (§ 15.2-2223 et seq.) of Chapter 22 of Title 15.2.
B. The Commission shall not approve construction of any such pipeline unless the public utility has provided 30 days’ advance public notice of the proposed pipeline by (i) publishing a notice in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation in each of the counties and municipalities through which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed, (ii) providing written notice to the governing body of each such county and municipality, (iii) causing to be sent a copy of the notice by first class mail to all owners of property within the route of the proposed pipeline, as indicated on the map or sketch of the route filed with the Commission, which requirement shall be satisfied by mailing the notice to such persons at such addresses as are indicated in the land books maintained by the commissioner of revenue, director of finance or treasurer of the county or municipality, and (iv) filing a copy of any plans, specifications, or maps of the proposed pipeline with the Commission, which plans, specifications, or maps shall be made available for public inspection at the Commission’s business office, during normal business hours. Any notice required by this subsection shall include a written description of the proposed route the line is to follow, a map or sketch of the route, and information regarding the time period during which persons may request a public hearing under subsection C of this section.
C. If, within 45 days after publication and mailing of the notices required in subsection B of this section, any interested party requests a public hearing, the Commission shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after such request, hold such hearing or hearings at such place as may be designated by the Commission. If written requests therefor are received from 20 or more interested parties, the Commission shall hold at least one hearing in the area that would be affected by construction of the pipeline, for the purpose of receiving public comment on the proposal. If any hearing is to be held in the area affected, the Commission shall direct that a copy of the transcripts of any previous hearings held in the case be made available for public inspection at a convenient location in the area for a reasonable time before such local hearing.
D. For the purposes of this section, “interested parties” means the governing bodies of any counties or municipalities through which the pipeline is to be constructed, and persons residing or owning property within one-half mile of such pipeline. For the purposes of this section, “environment” or “environmental” shall be deemed to include in meaning “historic.”
E. If a significantly different route is determined more desirable after the giving of the notice required in subsection B of this section, the Commission shall cause notice of the new route or routes to be published and mailed in accordance with subsection B of this section. The Commission shall thereafter comply with the provisions of this section to the full extent necessary to give interested parties in the newly affected areas the same protection afforded interested parties affected by the route described in the original notice.
F. Approval of a pipeline pursuant to this section shall be deemed to satisfy and supersede the requirements of § 15.2-2232 and local zoning ordinances with respect to such pipeline and related facilities; however, the Commission shall not approve the construction of a natural gas compressor station in an area zoned exclusively for residential use unless the public utility provides certification from the local governing body that the natural gas compressor station is consistent with the zoning ordinance. The certification required by this subsection shall be deemed to have been waived unless the local governing body informs the Commission and the public utility of the natural gas compressor station’s compliance or noncompliance within 45 days of the public utility’s written request.
1995, c. 311; 2001, c. 758; 2014, cc. 467, 507.