Fracking to go on BG ballot
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 12 September 2013 10:50
An attempt to remove an anti-fracking charter amendment from the November ballot was rejected unanimously this morning by the Wood County Board of Elections.
The protest filed on behalf of Bowling Green resident and retired businessman John Kretzschmar contended that the charter amendment was not something that is subject to a vote.
Attorney John Lavelle arguing for Kretzschmar contended that the issue was purely an administrative matter and as such is not subject to public vote.
He also contended that the amendment simply was an expression of public sentiment and as such was "not a proper issue to go on the ballot" citing a 1967 Ohio Supreme Court decision about an anti-war measure in Lakewood.
Lavelle also contended that the language in the charter amendment was too vague and could lead to a citizen filing suit to stop the transportation of chemicals on those parts of U.S. 23 and I-75 that fall within Bowling Green's jurisdiction as well as the railroad.
He noted that the person filing suit could have the party suing pay for all legal costs including the cost of expert witnesses.
The charter amendment was "so far afield that no court will ever uphold it," he said.
Attorney Sean Kelly representing the supporters of the charter amendment contended it was outside the purview of the Board of Elections to rule on the content of the ballot issue. All the board had authority to decide is the "sufficiency and validity" of the signatures on the petitions asking to place the amendment on the ballot.
He also contended that Lavelle took the language about transportation of chemicals in the amendment out of context, and that the wording clearly refers to those chemicals and byproducts related to hydraulic fracturing.
Josh Chamberlain, a junior at Bowling Green State University, and resident Joe DeMare also spoke urging the board to let voters decide the issue.
DeMare argued that if any section was invalid, it would be subject to legal challenge after the charter amendment was approved.
"If even one section of the proposed Amendment may be valid," he said, "we must be allowed to exercise our right as citizens and decide the question in a vote."
Lavelle later reasserted that the language would cover chemicals related to fracking traveling on the highways and railroads, and those people subject to lawsuits do not have a vote on the matter.
Following the board's decision, Kretzschmar said it was too early to tell whether he would seek further action.
He said he decided to appeal because of his fears about the impact of amendment on industry. He does not believe hydraulic fracturing will occur in Bowling Green, but that provisions of the charter amendment could hinder industries within the city.
Lisa Kochheiser, one of the organizers of the anti-fracking charter amendment movement, said she was gratified by the board's decision.