Move to place referendum on ballot gaining momentum.
GREEN Despite a settlement between the city of Green and NEXUS, some residents aren't giving up their fight.
Green City Council voted 4-3 last week to approve the settlement, which will give the city $7.5 million, 20 acres of park land, city oversight of construction of the pipeline and training for first responders.
One entity happy to see the fight end: NEXUS.
"After more than three years of communications with the city of Green, we are pleased to have reached a mutual resolution and will be moving forward in a cooperative spirit," NEXUS spokesperson Adam Parker said. "NEXUS will continue working with the community and public officials to construct and operate the pipeline in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."
Attorney David Mucklow, who is involved with The Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (CORN), said he is beginning the process for a referendum. Green's charter states any piece of legislation that doesn't produce three-fourths majority support can be subject to a referendum.
Mucklow said he needs to collect between 800 and 900 signatures from registered voters in Green within 30 days to move the issue to the ballot.
The city doesn't agree that the legislation as passed can be subject to a referendum. Law Director Diane Calta said the resolution is an administrative action not subject to referendum per the Ohio Constitution. Only legislative actions are subject to referendum, she said.
Mucklow might ask a court to decide if the measure if administrative or legislative.
Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said in a statement Friday, "City Council's recent approval of the settlement negotiated with NEXUS is a sad ending to a long tale of hard work, frustration and heartbreak for the city of Green. Perhaps our challenges and successes led to unrealistic expectations that our community would be spared from this menace."
Neugebauer said the city's legal and environmental team advised that now was the optimal time to reach a settlement.
"The city needed this leverage to get what we needed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our community," the mayor said.
As part of the settlement, the city will be able to inspect construction of the pipeline and enforce city ordinances.
Councilman Matthew Shaughnessy said making the decision to vote no on the settlement was easy.
"I didn't believe our legal fight was over, and it didn't square with me that NEXUS would offer $7.5 million if all they had to do was wait for a judge to make a guaranteed ruling and pay us less than $100,000," Shaughnessy said. "I think they had reason to be scared."
He agrees with Mucklow that the NEXUS issue might not be over.
"I didn't vote for the settlement, but I respect the outcome and will work toward moving forward, but if a referendum comes about, I've got to say, 'What an exciting time.' I love that part of our democracy, giving the people the right to directly challenge their elected officials' actions," Shaughnessy said. "Not all jurisdictions have the right of referendum, which is another reason I think Green is so wonderful."
Mucklow said CORN has an appeal in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and also has filed for a stay of construction against NEXUS, which is pending. Also, a resident who owns a 48-acre farm has not settled with NEXUS.
Councilman Chris Humphrey, who voted in favor of the settlement, said he has received several calls from people on each side of the issue and understands those who are upset with him.
"I understand their frustration," Humphrey said. "I support their right to disagree with me."
He said council held no power to move the pipeline and thinks some people misunderstood the fact the pipeline is coming regardless.
Councilman Bob Young, who also voted for the settlement, said he is not happy the pipeline is coming to Green. He said there a perception those who voted for the settlement voted to have the pipeline in Green.
He's disappointed no public officials in Ohio stepped up when it came to opposing the pipeline, especially Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, a Green resident.
Young wants to see the money from the settlement go to public safety and to repair anything destroyed when the pipeline is constructed. Some residents who are in the blast zone have told Young they would like to receive compensation from the NEXUS settlement. Young said he doesn't know how the city would do that.
Too early to settle
Councilman Stephen Dyer said taking the settlement was something the city didn't need to do.
"I am really disappointed that the administration and four of my colleagues decided to throw in the towel early," he said. "It is a sad day in the city of Green."
Nik Pappas, owner of Pav's Creamery, sent an email to all council members following the settlement vote. He said he was disappointed in the overall result, but understands council's position and respects the decision. Pappas would like to see a disaster relief fund established in case something were to happen. He also suggested a tax break for those who will see a decrease in property value.
"Use this settlement to protect the people who sleep next to this pipeline," he said.
Green resident Tammy Daly said she is upset the public was never given an opportunity to ask questions and felt the settlement was rushed.
Daly feels the city had no faith in the lawsuits pending in court.
"I will stand the line even though the city has diminished our chances," she said.
Construction of the pipeline along the route in Michigan and Ohio began in October 2017 and will continue across until the project is placed in service in the third quarter of this year.