Saturday, April 2, 2016

Venture Capital Easement Projects & the Path of Least Resistance



For the most part, established utility companies, established pipeline companies, and established railroads know how to acquire easements.  They work within a process through established Regional Transmission Organizations or similar rail organizations for Chicagoland by working with the states and local governments to relieve congestion issues. Large scale eminent domain projects are only proposed when there is not a more economical alternative.

The exception to the rule is venture capital companies with their speculation projects.   These companies and a few of the lesser utility companies still don’t have a clue what is required to acquire a new right-of-way easement through eminent domain.  It’s not surprising these inexperienced outsiders who are interest in “developing” projects through eminent domain then flip the project to another company for a quick profit.  That’s the strategy for venture capital projects.  Once the easement is secured, there is a marketable asset to sell for further “development”.

At this point, it is probably premature as Great Lakes Basin to send out landagents in an attempt to acquire some quick landgrabs from unsuspecting land owners.  GLB is probably still considering new proposed routes based on the path of least resistance.  They’ve had multiple proposed routes on the internet and there is a good chance another proposed route will be established based on the path of least resistance. 

Clearly Frank Patton and James (JT) Wilson have been working behind the scenes at the county boards.  The gooseneck route around DeKalb County is a clear indication of avoidance and mitigation of an issue, most likely a disapproving local government.    Flipping the proposed route from the west side of Winnebago to following the county line back to Boone County, being careful to stay out of DeKalb County, also looks like there was resistance to the proposed route at Winnebago County. 

Now that the public is very aware of this proposed eminent domain of over 7,000 acres and quite disturbed about being shut out of the process, Great Lakes Basin path of least resistance is probably looking for route adjustments to avoid grassroots opposition.  It wouldn’t be surprising if GLB proposes a new route to avoid what they see as the greatest residents’ opposition.  Companies inexperienced in right-of-way project development will operate under the assumption if we avoid the “troublemaker’s” properties, these people will lose interest and the project will go through on someone else’s property. 

These companies don’t realize just how many eminent domain right-of-way projects have come through farms and how many more have been proposed but failed.  Farmers and landowners are becoming experienced to these tactics and realize diverting projects onto an unsuspecting neighbor is a short term solution that encourages more eminent domain abuse.  Many farmers have witnessed a long history of landagent and siting tactics and realize unless we start questioning validity and true need for society, there are always more projects coming through the land.  

Ever have a feeling the train is coming off the tracks?  At GLB it comes when least expected and then it's too late. 


It is realized speculation capital projects such as the Rock Island Clean Line (powerline) or the Great Lakes Basin simply do not belong on anyone’s property.  The tactic of route adjustment based on avoiding the louder resistance and pushing the project on someone else’s property isn’t working like it used to work.  The Rock Island Clean Line proposed project is proof just how old this tactic has become and people stood up and opposed the project regardless of siting.


It’s not surprising projects like Great Lakes Basin work outside the normal planning process.  They can’t compete by following the rules of society.  Even still, the speculation capital model is becoming predictable.  Anticipate GLB making route changes based on landowner resistance and hope the “problems” evaporate as the project proceeds and a new route is chosen late in the process. 

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