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Anti-fracking petitions presented today in BG to put issue on ballot PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN | Sentinel City Editor   
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 12:01
A representative of a group promoting an anti-hydraulic fracturing amendment to Bowling Green's City Charter told city council Monday night they plan to present petitions today to place the issue on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Once City Finance Director Brian Bushong receives the petitions, it will be his responsibility to deliver them to the Wood County Board of Elections. The BOE will then determine if there are sufficient valid signatures for the question to be placed on the ballot. Council has no responsibility for handling the initiative petition. The filing deadline is Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Leslie Harper, of West River Road, told council that circulators were still seeking signatures Monday.

However, council did discuss, but did not introduce, an anti-fracking ordinance prepared for their review by City Attorney Michael Marsh.

At-Large Council Member Bruce Jeffers said he understood Marsh offered the ordinance because of what some consider confusing language in the proposed charter amendment, along with possible negative effects on business activity in the city.

"My reading of the charter amendment is that it is at least confusing and it could have unintended consequences," Marsh said. "If the target is fracking, why not just say so?"

Marsh continues to believe that state law would preempt any fracking law that city council or voters might approve. He prefers using an ordinance instead of a charter amendment. "The charter speaks to the governance of the city, while ordinances deal with issues like cutting trees. The charter is how we operate the city."

Third Ward council Member Mike Aspacher said he viewed the ordinance "as an appropriate way to deal with the issue because it was written by Bowling Green people. The charter amendment was written by people outside of Bowling Green." He questioned Marsh about having both an ordinance and a charter prohibition on fracking. Marsh said he did not see a problem with having both "but the charter amendment does bring other stuff" into the issue.

Lisa Kochheiser, of the Fresh Water Accountability Project, said the charter amendment is seen as a more permanent solution to the fracking issue. She said council members change and may not always feel the same way. An ordinance can be repealed by council but a charter amendment would take a vote of the people.

At least twice she referred to the "municipal landfill" and indicated the charter amendment would keep fracking waste out of the landfill. At-Large council Member Robert McOmber pointed out there is no municipal landfill and that the Wood County Landfill, operated by the Wood County Solid Waste District, is located outside the city.

Council also:

Gave first reading to an ordinance intended to deal with tree problems on private property.

Approved ordinances to purchase LED retrofit kits to upgrade downtown street lighting, purchase utility inventory requirements and underground and overhead line insurance.

Approved interim zoning of R-2, single-family residential for property at 16381 Brim Road and changes to the zoning code regarding utility data required on site plans.


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