Bob Downing

A total of 6,578 signatures on a petition seeking a November vote on a Medina County community bill of rights was filed on Thursday with the Medina County Board of Elections.

In the next 10 days, the elections board is expected to determine if there are sufficient signatures of registered Medina County voters to trigger a Nov. 8 vote.

Organizers from Sustainable Medina County, a grass-roots group, needed 4,814 signatures to require a vote on the community bill of rights that could help fight shale drilling and related industries.

That meant the group had collected 30 percent more than the minimum number of signatures required, said spokeswoman Kathie Jones of Wadsworth Township.

Yes, were happy, very, very happy, she said. We worked really hard to collect the signatures.

Similar petitions were filed in Athens and Meigs counties and in the cities of Youngstown (for the sixth time) and Waterville as Ohioans fight back against shale drilling, pipeline and injection wells for liquids wastes.

Petitions are still being circulated in Portage County.

The current structure of Medina County government would remain intact under the proposed charter, but the charter would give the countys elected officials the authority to protect residents from corporate harm.

In addition, the peoples right to initiative and referendum would be codified under the plan to give them more control.

The initiative could make it easier to block the Nexus natural gas pipeline and a pipeline compressor station west of Wadsworth in Guilford Township.

In order to block the pipeline, Medina Countys community bill of rights would have to be approved by voters and go into effect before the pipeline wins federal approval, expected in late 2016.

The $2 billion pipeline project running through Medina, Wayne, Summit and Stark counties needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

It is the second time that such an effort has been undertaken in Medina County.

Last year, the Medina County group gathered 5,000 signatures, more than the required 4,900 that were needed. Last August, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ruled the issue off the Nov. 3 ballot on technicalities in Medina and two other counties.

For more information on the Medina County charter proposal, go to www.sustainablemedinacounty.org.

Petitions are still circulating in Portage County where injection wells for drilling wastes are the big issue.

The plan is to turn those petitions into the Portage County commissioners on July 20 to force a vote, said organizer Gwen Fischer of Hiram, a spokeswoman for the Portage Community Rights Group.

The local groups have been working with the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to assert their rights and protect their communities from drilling, pipelines, compressor stations and injection wells.

For information on the Portage County campaign, go to www.portagecommunityrightsgroup.org or call 330-569-8671.

To date, the cities of Broadview Heights, Yellow Springs, Oberlin and Athens have approved such community bill of rights.

It is unclear if such efforts conflict with state law that gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole authority over drilling and related activities.