City of Green Notifies Summit County Board of Elections that the Referendum Petition against Nexus Settlement Agreement Are Insufficient andInvalid
JUNE 12, 2018 – GREEN, OH – This week, the City of Green’s Finance Director Steve Schmidt notified the Summit County Board of Elections that he cannot verify the referendum petitions related to the Nexus Pipeline Settlement Agreement (2018-R09) under legal advice from counsel that the petitions are insufficient and invalid.
At the February 7 City Council meeting, Green City Council voted to authorize the Mayor to enter into a settlement agreement with Nexus ending a 3-year battle to stop the pipeline being routed through the City. The agreement assured the City would meet with Nexus weekly to address concerns, monitor the pipeline construction, and provided 20 acres of land adjacent to Boettler and Southgate Parks, plus $7.5 million. Following the meeting, a group of citizens organized a referendum intending to negate the approved settlement agreement.
After the City received the initial referendum petitions, the City submitted them to the Board of Elections to verify the validity of the petitions. The Board of Elections, however, declined to address the validity of the petitions, focusing only on the validity of the individual signatures. Then, the petitions were returned to the City for a determination regarding the sufficiency and validity of the petitions, based on Ohio Revised Code Section 731.31. The City requested the opinion of the City’s interim law director and an outside law firm, Brennan, Manna & Diamond, to provide a legal opinion on the sufficiency and validity of the petitions.
Based on these two separate legal opinions, they in fact were deemed to be invalid:
The petitions as circulated did not have the final and approved ordinance attached, which included revised and stricken language from the ordinance (Resolution 2018-R09) as well as the appropriate signatures and roll call tabulation of votes of City Council; and
More importantly, the petitions circulated did not include the settlement agreement (attached to Resolution 2018-R09 as exhibit A). An important element for petition signers to review because the petition would render this agreement invalid if passed by voters.
“These insufficiencies could have misled residents into signing,” said William Chris, interim law director. “Residents need to know what they are signing and why. During the review period, two signers removed their name from the petitions because they were told that signing the petitions would stop the pipeline.”
Signing the referendum petition would never have stopped the pipeline.
“I want the residents of Green to understand that the City administration never wanted the pipeline in our community,” said Mayor Gerard Neugebauer. “My predecessor Dick Norton began the fight against FERC, the governing body that approves pipelines, and I continued the fight against the pipeline route including legal battles on several fronts. Despite some success, we leveraged our legal posture to negotiate a favorable settlement with Nexus, based on advice of legal counsel. Our community can be reassured that Green did all that we could to provide the best outcome possible. It still isn’t the one we had strived for, but it is better than what we would have received if we would have continued the legal battle.”
The City of Green, Ohio, founded in 1992, is a prosperous, progressive and promising city with more than 26,000 residents. Approximately 33.5 square-miles, Green is located in southern Summit County. Visit www.cityofgreen.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofgreenohio.