ROCKY MOUNT — The Franklin County Board of Supervisors may be getting closer to taking action on the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

At Tuesday’s supervisors meeting, Steve Sandy from the planning department outlined a Roanoke County draft resolution that Franklin County may choose to emulate next month.

Last month, the board decided not to adopt a resolution that anti-pipeline group Preserve Franklin brought the board in July. Instead, the board asked the county staff to connect with other localities and see what they planned to do.

Sandy reached out to Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Pittsylvania counties, all of which might be affected by the proposed 300-mile, 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline.

He found that Roanoke County established a pipeline advisory committee that has developed a draft resolution very similar to the one Preserve Franklin asked the supervisors to adopt. The biggest difference between the two resolutions is that Roanoke County’s does not ask that local governments have the authority to conduct inspections of their own, Sandy said.

Sandy outlined the three main points of the draft resolution: ensuring that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has sufficient staffing and resources for inspections; that the DEQ require site-specific erosion and sediment control and stormwater management plans that are available to the county to review before they are approved; and that Mountain Valley Pipeline and third-party inspectors meet with local officials to discuss implementation of the plans.

Roanoke County is expected to vote on the resolution next week, Sandy said.

Roanoke County would like all of the potentially affected localities to adopt a similar resolution and then submit them all to the governor’s office and the DEQ, Sandy said.

Because the board just received a copy of the draft resolution, members opted to wait until the October meeting — and after Roanoke County’s meeting — to consider adopting a similar resolution.

County Administrator Brent Robertson provided a briefing on the private meetings supervisors had with Mountain Valley Pipeline officials two weeks ago. Three separate meetings, with no more than two supervisors per meeting, were held to ensure compliance with the public meeting requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The meetings, which included four Mountain Valley engineers, were “purely technical in nature,” Robertson said.

The engineers talked about design and construction, Robertson said, discussing the kinds of pipe that will be used, the coatings that will be on the pipe, water body crossing selection methods and erosion and sediment control plans, among other things.

Mountain Valley has not yet identified all of the bodies of water the pipeline could cross. Robertson said that should be finished sometime in October, and that the full list of affected streams will be shared with the public.

Robertson said he felt the meeting was very productive and gave the board and staff a better idea of potential issues to be aware of and which oversight groups they can bring the issues to.

The goal of the meeting was “to understand what is coming so we can prepare for it,” Robertson said.

The county also discovered that there is a federal certification county staff can obtain that would allow them to be on construction sites, Robertson said.

Sandy stressed that this would not give county employees control of the sites, but that it would allow them to be more involved in the process.

Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson, who is the only supervisor to publicly oppose the pipeline, said he thinks it’s crucial that a few county employees get the certification.

Gills Creek District Supervisor Bob Camicia said the board needs to think about the cost associated with sending county employees out to project sites. He said he would like to see a cost analysis of such measures, as they could require additional staff and affect taxpayers.

“These things don’t come for free,” he said.

Thompson countered this point, saying that if the pipeline comes to fruition, the impact will be much greater than the cost of additional inspectors.

His comment prompted cheers and applause from residents opposed to the pipeline, to which Camicia replied, “I deal with facts, not emotion.”

Casey Fabris covers Franklin County, Rocky Mount and Ferrum College.

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