Sheriff's Wife Fighting for Her Life, and Her Land

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NELSON COUNTY, VA -- Dominion Resources has filed another round of civil lawsuits against landowners in Nelson County to gain access to their properties to survey for a natural gas pipeline. Sheriff David Brooks and his wife, Sherri, are one of the 59 families being sued by Dominion.

The Brooks first heard about the proposed pipeline last summer, when they received a letter from Dominion asking permission to survey their land.

"My initial reaction was no, I mean this is our home," said Sherri Brooks. "First of all, I don't want it on my property. Second of all, I don't think it's safe."

"Would you want this in your backyard or your front yard where your kids play, where your grandkids play?" asked Sheriff Brooks.

The proposed route for the five billion dollar pipeline carrying natural gas from Ohio and Pennsylvania, could run right trough their property off James River Road. The land was once an apple orchard and has belonged to the Brooks family for three generations.

"This land has value to us, more than just a monetary value," Sherri Brooks said.

The Brooks found out on Monday that Dominion had filed a civil lawsuit against them for access to their land.

"Because I'm fighting cancer, it's annoying to me that on top of that I have to fight them for property that I work and pay for," said Sherri Brooks.

While the Brooks are preparing for a legal battle, Sherri is battling cancer. She was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2010 and is currently undergoing her third round of chemotherapy.

"I'm beating it so far," she said. "I'll be a five-year survivor in May."

Her body may be weak, but Sherri Brooks' resolve couldn't be stronger.

"They are going to have to fight me for it. Cancer is a pretty tough opponent but Dominion is second to that."

The Brooks say they have attended numerous community informational meetings held by Dominion officials, but say their questions about the proposed pipeline have not bee answered. During one of those sessions Wednesday night, a Dominion official told CBS19 it's in landowners best interest to let the surveyors onto their properties.

"Our ultimate goal is to make the best route with the least impact to the environmental, cultural, and historic resources, and the best way to do that is to get valuable and critical information from the landowners," said Frank Mack.

Before pipeline construction can begin, the project must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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