George W. Davis
GREEN: With passion in their voices, seven property owners asked the city to put $25,000 toward federal litigation to try to keep the Nexus natural gas pipeline away from the area.
The Green and New Franklin residents want the city to help fund their lawsuit seeking to block Nexus from using eminent domain to obtain properties in the path of the proposed 250-mile pipeline.
Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer on Tuesday told an audience of about 30 people, “The city of Green has been very active in this and we continue to be.
“We have an attorney retained to help us at this point in time. And we continue to look at our options in the future. And, yes, Summit County did agree to match our legal expenses” in this battle.
He added that he believes there still is time to file the lawsuit since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is one member shy of having a quorum and therefore can’t take action on the Nexus certificate request.
“We do intend to act before the certificate is issued,” he said.
Because he believes Nexus pays attention when opponents divulge their moves publicly, Neugebauer said, “We are not going to tell you here in this open forum exactly what we are working on.”
He added, “We are working hard and will continue to work hard, and won’t be satisfied until we get this done — which would mean that [Nexus planners] follow our advice and go south ... if they need to build a pipeline at all.”
Local attorney David Mucklow, legal counsel for the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, said late Tuesday night that he met with Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro and Summit Law Director Deborah Matz and was given assurance that the county would provide $25,000 to aid the legal battle.
Mucklow said the funding will aid a three-member team of lawyers now working on the federal litigation to be filed federal court in Akron.
Calling the pipeline “unnecessary,” Randy Watt of New Franklin said, “We still have time to fight. No permit has yet been issued from FERC and ground is not yet broken. We still have a chance to delay and defeat Nexus... The price of going into this federal lawsuit will prove [to be] miniscule compared to the losses that will go uncurbed should FERC finally grants Nexus their permit to construct.”
Mount Pleasant Road resident Susan Ridgeway, sister of Mucklow and a former Green councilwoman, told the council, “I would urge you to continue to fight... I just hope that you will find it in your heart and the means of the city to continue to fight because it would just be so catastrophic if it [the pipeline] was put in.”
Deborah Oakes of East Comet Road, who has lived in Green for 42 years, said she and her husband planned that their current third home on nearly five acres “would be our nest egg and retirement.
“Now here comes Nexus with a huge pipeline in our backyard, possibly exploding our life plan and dreams. We will take a huge financial hit. [Several days ago] Nexus offered us $15,000 to sign. When we turned that down, we received threatening letters that Nexus was going to sue us.
She added, “Nexus, please don’t explode our lifelong American dream. We have worked so very hard to get here.”
Mike Conley, also of East Comet Road, urged the city not to wait till the end of April to take action.
“We are right in the path and it already is affecting our property values,” he said. “Really, this is our opportunity to have our case heard with regards to our life. This pipeline could explode and take our life.
“I read the reasons why you want to delay and wait, but the delay of a month might wind up with a certificate. They are loading that gun now to put to our heads. And if they walk around and say, ‘Don’t worry we might not pull the trigger’ that is not good enough. We need to stop them before they load the gun.”
Resident Dana Kwasnicka of Honeymoon Drive said, “I urge City Council to support the [lawsuit] and support allocating funding to stop [the Nexus] project if we can.”
Mucklow also said money continues to be raised by CORN to fight Nexus. Funds can be deposited at Huntington Bank branches or at Mucklow’s East Turkeyfoot Lake Road law office.
George W. Davis can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.