GREEN A lot of moving parts are under way in the city of Green regarding the NEXUS pipeline following City Council's recent vote to accept a $7.5 million dollar with the natural gas company.
Residents continue to be vocal about their opinions of the settlement as the city shifts it's focus to helping answer concerns.
NEXUS plans to begin construction on the 36-inch natural gas pipeline through the southern portion of the city, from the Lake Township border and into the city of New Franklin. In all, the NEXUS pipeline will run from Southeast Ohio to Michigan.
Efforts are ongoing to obtain the needed 800 signatures to challenge the NEXUS settlement on the ballot. In fact, Citizens for Responsible Green Government, the group behind the movement, may have the required amount after collecting several hundred during the Celebration of Education event Saturday. The group says it has close to 1,000 signatures overall.
Green’s charter states any piece of legislation that doesn’t produce a three-fourths majority support can be subject to a referendum. The city stands by its position that the legislation is not subject to a referendum.
Attorney David Mucklow, who is involved with The Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (CORN), said when he took the referendum to the Green Law Director Diane Calta, she would not provide a receipt proving she saw it.
Mucklow was told he may have to take the signatures to the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office once they are obtained. He said the city has been fighting him "tooth and nail" and he is likely going to have to go to court with the city.
Tammy Daly, a resident involved with the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (CORN), has been assisting with gathering signatures. She said even some people who are unsure about the pipeline are signing the petition.
"They want to get it on the ballot and then decide," Daly said.
There are still several active litigation cases fighting the pipeline underway as the city of Oberlin has not settled, along with one property owner in Green. CORN also has two active cases against NEXUS.
If the needed signatures are collected and approved by the Summit County Board of Elections, the Green settlement with NEXUS will be frozen, Mucklow said.
As the NEXUS project moves closer to construction, the city has established a dedicated phone number and email to questions pertaining to the project. The city said calls and emails will be returned within 24 hours during the week.
"We know residents have questions and concerns about the pipeline and wanted to make sure they had a chance to ask their questions and receive the most accurate and complete information," Green Communications Coordinator Valerie Wolford said.
Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 330-896-6930.
The city has also set up a dedicated text message group for those interested in receiving text message updates about the pipeline. To sign up, text PIPELINE to 888-777.
NEXUS can also be contacted directly at 1-844-589-3655.
Residents continue to make their voices heard about their frustration with the city taking the settlement.
"I feel let down by the settlement the city of Green took with NEXUS," Andrea Hurr said.
Hurr said the city shouldn’t have taken the first offer and should have spent more money if necessary to continue to fight.
"I understand that NEXUS is big business and the city was advised to take the offer as it was in our best interest, but we'll never know what could have happened now," Hurr said. "We could have rewrote the future of Green and NEXUS I feel, and maybe I'm just naïve."
Hurr said her family’s house is about 1,040 feet from the pipeline, which puts them in the blast zone.
"That being said and having no concrete information on what it means to be in the blast zone we have a lot of sadness and fear about this," Hurr said. "We are all wondering if our home values go down because of the pipeline do we get a break on our tax assessment."
Hurr and her family built their home eight years ago and loved that they had a farm in their backyard.
"Over these eight years, we have become family with our neighbors and street," Hurr said. "Our kids all play together, we all look out for each other, we are absolutely the village in the saying 'it takes a village to raise children.' "
Hurr is concerned about the what ifs that could occur.
"How can we knowingly stay and put our children in harms way, no matter how small the chance is of an explosion and even if there never is an explosion God willing, will there still be consequences to the health of my family over time," Hurr questioned. "I've been trying to read as much information as possible, both ways, to inform myself and make the best choices possible, but it’s hard. There are so many unknowns and variables at this time and the thought of moving my family from their friends, lives, only home they've known makes me incredibly sad."
Several residents spoke during the public comment period during the Feb. 13 council meeting.
Greer Langkamp said the settlement was rushed, which he says is irresponsible.
"Thanks a lot to those of you who sold us down the river," Langkamp said.
Tony Ziehler said it is time to stop being angry and focus on the things that can be impacted. He wants people to make the best of the agreement the city has.
Daly also addressed council and said she had concerns that the full City Council didn't know this legislation was about NEXUS until the executive session held Feb. 12, two days before the vote.
"I have concerns that not a single Green resident publicly supported the legislation during that hour of testimony yet four of you voted against the people’s voices," Daly said. "I have concerns that council is no longer listening to residents and no longer working for your constituents. Since the mayor and four members of City Council weren't interested in listening to its residents a week ago, maybe they will listen to us at the ballot box."
City of Green Communications Coordinator Valerie Wolford said the city has had several meetings with NEXUS and its team to keep the city informed on what is going on.
Work has already begun to mark utilities and also surveying of areas within the easement is underway. Temporary drives are also being installed at intersections for trucks to move equipment. Tree clearing also just began and will be done form west to east and is expected to be completed by the end of March.
Once the tree clearing is complete, there will be a bit of a lull with the project for a few months. NEXUS officials have told the city that grading and installation of the pipe will take place during the summer. Installation of the pipe will occur from east to west.
Wolford said most of the work will be done off the road, but motorists can expect flaggers in a few places as equipment is being moved. NEXUS will bore under the roads necessary to put the pipeline under the road, so there won’t be an impact to traffic.
Wolford also said the city has been reassured by NEXUS that their employees will be respectful. She said NEXUS put its haul route signs up too early and the city made NEXUS take them down until the appropriate time.
"We are holding them to everything in the agreement and what they said they would do," Wolford said.