CHESAPEAKE -- 60 landowners in the Dunedin section of Chesapeake have been informed by Dominion Virginia Power that they are in violation of the right-of-way easements.
The easements range from 130 to 170 feet. It's the area in which Dominion crews must maneuver to work on power lines, fix outages or perform upgrades.
James Evans moved into the neighborhood in 2004. A year later he had a shed built in his backyard to align with the other sheds that were sitting in the yards down his street. Up until now, there was never a problem with where it was located.
"I'm paying for this property and I can't use it. What am I supposed to do?" Evans asked.
Evans paid $3,000 to have the shed built and spent another $300 to have it removed, once he received a letter from Dominion that his shed and swimming pool were too close to the power lines.
Jeff Hamman, a resident on Woodbaugh Drive, was also notified by Dominion. A surveyor from Dominion found his shed and part of his patio were in violation.
Before Hamman complies, he says, he has a lot of questions and so far, feels like he's had trouble getting straight answers from Dominion. Hamman wants the utlity company to have a town hall meeting.
"That way everybody could be in the same room and get the same information and understand the same choices."
Right now, he has until March 31 to comply, or according to a letter by Dominion attorney, Leonard Heath, the company will file suit.
Hamman also wonders if businesses are being let off the hook and not facing the same scrutiny as the residents. He points to the nearby Western Branch storage facility and light poles at a Honda dealership that appear, he says, to be in violation.
"I really have the feeling that they're not targeting businesses at all."
Dominion spokesperson Bonita Harris says the issue is about safety for Dominion employees and residents.
In the last three years, North American Electric Reliability Corporation has cracked down on easement violations and identified the Dunedin neighborhood as a problem. NERC is the federal agency that sets and enforces standards for transmission line maintenance and clearances.
Harris says Dominion is willing to work with customers who may need more time to comply and even consider granting extensions on a case-by-case basis.
"When you have obstructions in the right of way, it complicates it for our employees who have to get in there and work on the line and turn around. It can increase the chances of hazards to employees and the public and it's our responsibility to make sure its safe for employees and the public," Harris said.
According to Harris, the Western Branch storage facility is in compliance by honoring a 130-foot easement agreement. And while the light poles at the dealership are in the right of way, they have safety features that make them not in violation of the easement agreement.
Dominion is urging residents to check public land records to review the easements.
Residents can also apply for an encroachment request "before" erecting a structure.
For more information, residents can email the Dominion Right of Ways group at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-215-8032.