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Sustainable Medina County presents charter petition

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected from a previous version

When Michele Zelazny moved to Hinckley Township 30 years ago, it was because she wanted to raise a family in a spacious, natural setting.

"I loved the rural nature of Medina County," Zelazny said.

Zelazny and a small group from Sustainable Medina County submitted a petition 6,578 signatures Thursday to the Medina County Board of Elections.

Sustainable Medina County is seeking a county-charter initiative for the November ballot. The charter will allow Medina County residents to have "clean air, clean water," as well as give residents a voice where they live, said Kathie Jones, organizer of Sustainable Medina County.

A natural gas compressor station has been proposed to be built on a plot of agricultural land at 8707 Guilford Road, Guilford Township.

The compressor station is one of four on the route of the proposed NEXUS pipeline. The pipeline would be 36 inches in diameter and would pump 1.5 billion cubic feet of highly pressurized gas from Columbiana County in eastern Ohio through counties, including Medina, before going to Michigan and then into Canada.

"If this is allowed to come through, this will industrialize that whole path," Zelazny said. "That's not why people live here."

If passed, the charter would empower people with the ability to say no to NEXUS, Jones said.

According to House Bill 278 effective in 2004, “…the Oil and Gas Law and rules adopted under it constitute a comprehensive plan with respect to all aspects of the locating, drilling and operation of oil and gas wells in Ohio, and repeals all statutory authority of local governments to regulate oil and gas exploration and operation as well as limitations on that authority.”

Proposing this charter on the ballot would allow residents to gain back the ability to oppose NEXUS.

Zelazny became involved with Sustainable Medina County when she found out family friends in Guilford Township will be near a compressor station.

"I believe as a resident of Medina County, I'm in solidarity with fellow residents of Medina County," she said. "Even though I'm not close to it, I want to preserve the rural nature of our county."

This isn't Sustainable Medina County's first time collecting signatures for the charter. Last year, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted ruled the petition unconstitutional, stopping the charter from being placed on the ballot last November. Sustainable Medina County then appealed to the Supreme Court and began collecting signatures in March.

"We said, 'The form of government is not changing,'” Jones said.

Sustainable Medina County needs at least 4,814 valid signatures, Medina County Board of Elections Director Carol Lawler said.

Jones said registered voters from the county who signed the petition included high school students, new voters, college students and people as old as 82.

The Medina County Board of Elections will hold a board meeting 3 p.m. Monday, July 11, to vote on certifying the results of the proposed county charter petition.

Medina County commissioners then will decide whether to pass a resolution to give the Board of Elections permission to add the charter to the ballot in November.

Pauline Chapman said she is going to be directly affected by the pipeline. Chapman, who has lived in Seville for 38 years, signed the petition because she is worried about mistakes made during construction or maintenance of the pipe. Chapman lives just south of Chatham Road.

"I know firsthand, after working with pipefitters for nine years, if they don't X-ray every one of those wells, that they can erupt," Chapman said. She explained that seams have to be matched perfectly and it cannot be guaranteed that will be the case.

Lynn Kemp has lived in York Township for 40 years. Kemp previously lived on her family's farm in Litchfield Township for 20 years, which is going to be affected by the pipeline.

Two years ago, Kemp's family received a letter from NEXUS saying that the pipeline was coming. She said the gist of the letter was the company saying "you should be happy we are putting a gas line in," adding that she could not believe the "arrogance" of the company.

"I want this county safe," Kemp said.



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