GREEN The NEXUS Pipeline project will be moving forward in Green in the coming months.
During a special council meeting Feb. 7, Green City Council, in a 4-3 decision, voted in favor of a settlement with NEXUS. The settlement includes $7.5 million, 20 acres of park land adjacent to Boettler Park along with several other safety and oversight measures for the project.
The vote by council left many unhappy residents believing they were "sold out." Council chambers was packed with a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people.
Prior to the vote, residents were permitted to speak for three minutes each and council allowed for an hour of comments.
Desmond Wertheimer, said he worked on pipelines for 12 years. He said he was approached about working on the NEXUS Pipeline and he said no. Wertheimer said he could never do that to his neighbors.
Mark Loveland said the pipeline will run about 100 feet from his property and urged the city to keep on fighting.
"This is going to give me nothing but fear for me and my family," Loveland said.
Residents agreed the money wasn’t enough that NEXUS offered and the city should keep on fighting. Some residents asked questions of council, which were not answered.
Al Courtney, who has lived in Green for 81 years, didn’t tell council which way to vote.
"I feel very confident that you will make every effort to do what is right for the city of Green," Courtney said.
Paul Gierosky, co-founder of The Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (CORN), told council to let the courts make a decision.
"Now is not the time to concede," Gierosky said.
Former Green Zoning Director Barb Holdren, who recently retired and is a 40 year property owner in Green, urged council to vote no on the settlement. She was unable to attend the meeting, but sent an email to council voicing her concerns.
"I believe administration is just tired of the continual fight and this is a way out," the email read. "Please renew your efforts and continue to protect our community."
Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer acknowledged there is a lot of anger in the community, adding that he understands it. He said if people want to be angry, they should be with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which approved the project.
Neugebauer told council the pipeline is coming regardless of the vote on the settlement because NEXUS has all the approvals it needs to move forward.
"There is nothing we have that they need," Neugebauer said.
He said many people will drive through the blast zone on a daily basis because the pipeline runs under many roads, including Interstate 77. He also stressed that the city never had control of where the pipeline should go. A proposed alternative route was drawn up by the city and presented, which would have taken the pipeline through a less populated areas with fewer impacts. The alternative route, however, was never even considered by NEXUS.
"The $7.5 million doesn’t really mean much," Neugebauer said.
He said he is confident he got the best deal he could and said Green officials have fought the hardest of any other community in the pipeline's path.
Each member of council was permitted seven minutes to share their comments about the settlement prior to the vote.
Councilman Rocco Yeargin said he doesn’t like to see communities pushed around, especially his community.
"This vote is not at all about whether NEXUS comes to our community," Yeargin said.
He said the settlement money can be used to keep people safe.
Councilman Justin Speight said he was not elected to office to accept a settlement.
"I will not lay down and wave the white flag," Speight said. "I am not done fighting."
Councilman Bob Young said he was having a hard time with the settlement and said he is against the pipeline.
"I don’t want this for my city," Young said.
He said it was a tough decision, one he doesn’t take lightly.
Council member Barbara Babbitt said she read every email and piece of information that was sent to her. She said she has always supported the city’s fight, but everywhere the city turns, it seemingly hits a brick wall.
"Our options have run out and that is clear to me," Babbitt said.
Councilman Stephen Dyer said he couldn’t look at his children and wife and tell them he did everything he could if he took the settlement. Dyer said he knows the city has a very small chance at blocking the pipeline, but he added if the city takes the settlement, there will be no chance.
"I can’t live with those odds," Dyer said.
Councilman Matthew Shaughnessy said residents were loud and clear they didn’t want a casino in Green, medical marijuana and they have also been clear they don’t want the NEXUS pipeline.
"A no vote keeps the fight alive," Shaughnessy said.
Shaughnessy added that the city only heard one legal opinion.
Councilman Chris Humphrey said people should be angry with and blame FERC, NEXUS and the Ohio EPA for the project.
"We never asked for this pipeline," Humphrey said.
Humphrey said the city has fought hard for the residents, but there isn’t one credible legal option out there to keep it worth fighting for.
"We can accept a big bag of nothing, or the best deal," Humphrey said.
Voting for the settlement were Humphrey, Yeargin, Young and Babbitt. Voting against the settlement were Dyer, Speight and Shaughnessy.