- Duluth News Tribune -
Engelking, 27, aimed to hunt deer Wednesday morning when he noticed a pipeline crew on his land. He hopped on his ATV and told workers they had no right to be on his property because he had received no compensation from Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. for an easement.
Engelking said workers told him he was in an unsafe place and asked him to come to an equipment staging area, where he continued to argue his case.
But just as he was turning to leave, Engelking said an officer from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene and approached with a Taser drawn.
“He ordered me to 'get down on the ground now!' And he said that I was being arrested for trespassing,” Engelking said.
When Engelking protested, pointing out that he was on his own property, he said Sgt. Robert Smith told him: “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to jail. You can tell it to a judge tomorrow.”
Engelking offered no resistance, but Smith placed him in handcuffs then transported him to the Douglas County Jail. After posting a $200 bail bond, Engelking was released that afternoon. He also had to pay about another $100 to recover his impounded ATV.
The incident report says Engelking parked his ATV in front of pipeline equipment, stopping workers. Engelking said that wasn’t his intention.
Engelking’s arrest Wednesday is the latest episode in a long disagreement he and his father, Jerry Engelking, have had with Enbridge, dating to the company’s last pipeline expansion in 2002.
Jerry Engelking, who owns 200 acres next to his son, said he refused to sign off on changes proposed to the original 1949 easement across his property because he felt the revisions put too many restrictions on how he could use his property. That original easement said future pipes laid along the same route would require payments in advance.
According to court documents, Enbridge sent a $15,000 check to Jerry Engelking and also tried to hand-deliver payments, but Engelking refused to accept them.
Engelking said that to claim the money he would have had to broaden the scope of the existing easement across his property, so he turned the checks down. When the latest pipeline project came along, the Engelkings again refused to modify the original 1949 right-of-way agreement.
The family sought a restraining order against Enbridge on Sept. 24, arguing the company intended to use the pipeline for transporting petroleum products other than those originally allowed, protesting that they had not been paid and citing damage to property.
Douglas County Circuit Court Judge George Glonek granted a temporary injunction but lifted it the following day, saying the company’s plans for the pipeline were appropriate and efforts had been made to pay the Engelkings.
Jerry Engelking said the fight’s not finished yet.
Officers reported no similar incidents along the path of the Enbridge pipeline construction in Douglas County, said Lt. Gerald Moe of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
Grymala said that Enbridge has worked with about 1,500 landowners as part of the pipeline project.
“We recognize construction is an inconvenience to people; people want access to their land,” she said. “We strive to be respectful of that, to have a good working relationship.”