Rover pipeline tax payments pumping into county coffers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Pipeline tax revenue has started flowing into Wood County coffers. After much skepticism – some fueled by exaggerated tax estimates from pipeline officials themselves – the property tax payments from the Rover Pipeline project have been made to the county. And soon that money will be on its way to local schools, libraries, townships and other governmental entities. Rover Pipeline has paid a full year of property taxes in Wood County – adding up to $4.2 million, Wood County Auditor Matt Oestreich said on Tuesday. School districts will get nearly $2.7 million, county agencies will get $1 million, townships will take in $422,557, and local libraries will get $65,565. Rover Pipeline, with $57.5 million in property value, has now outpaced Toledo Edison. “They’ve become the most valuable single taxpayer in the county,” Oestreich said. And by next year, a second side-by-side Rover pipeline should be in operation – potentially doubling the tax revenue, the county auditor said. Oestreich said the hesitancy by school districts and other entities to bank on the pipeline is reasonable. “Schools are all waiting,” he said. Rover pipeline did not appeal its tax bill this year, but that right to appeal is offered annually, Oestreich said. “They can appeal next year, potentially they can do that every year,” he said. Oestreich said utilities do sometimes appeal, most recently Troy Energy located in Troy Township. The pipeline will continue to pay local property taxes throughout a 30-year depreciation cycle. The tax revenue coming in from the pipeline will lower the rates for others paying in the county. “That’s a positive for normal residential taxpayers,” said Karen Young, of the county auditor’s office. Much of the skepticism with Rover’s tax payments was due to the company’s exaggerated estimates of how much local entities would reap from the pipeline coming through the area. Some of those estimates, made when trying to woo support from local entities, went as high as $3 million a year for entities like Henry Township. However, that township will actually get $143,245 this next year. In 2015, when the initial promise was made by Energy Transfer which constructed the Rover pipeline, then Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen questioned the estimates. Current county auditor Oestreich shared those concerns about inaccurate estimates being given to township officials. “They were throwing around some rather large numbers,” Oestreich said. “I don’t think they understood Ohio taxation at all.” Following is a list of the annual Rover tax revenue going to each entity this year: Schools: $2,698,811 total Elmwood: $1,224,904.North Baltimore: $422,659.McComb: $40,186.Bowling Green: $831,206.Penta: $179,855. Townships: $422,557 total Bloom: $109,599.Henry: 143,245.Jackson: $39,062.Milton: $77,664.Perry: $52,985. Libraries: $65,565 total Wayne: $33,467.North Baltimore: $15,941.Wood County: $16,156. Wood County public agencies are also in line to get tax revenue from the Rover pipeline. The following agencies will divide nearly $1 million in Rover tax revenue: Wood County Park District: $57,482.Wood County Developmental Disabilities: $525,961.Wood County General Fund: $135,082.Wood County Historical Center: $2,874.Wood County Job & Family Services: $74,726.Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services: $149,453.Wood County Senior Citizens: $40,237.Wood County Health Department: $28,741. None of the new Nexus pipeline running north of Bowling Green is located in the Bowling Green School District. The school district had delayed putting the Rover pipeline revenue in its budget, since it was unknown whether or not the funding would come through. The district’s financial advisor, David Conley, from Rockmill Financial Inc., also pointed out that the pipeline revenue is an uncertainty since the state sometimes takes that revenue from some districts to give to others that are struggling…

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BG voters reject anti-pipeline charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Many Bowling Green residents distrust pipelines, but they also disliked the charter amendment intended to keep the lines off city land. The charter amendment, proposed by Bowling Green Climate Protectors, failed on Tuesday by a vote of 2,145 (39 percent) to 3,408 (61 percent). “I’m grateful to the voters of Bowling Green for protecting the integrity of the city charter,” Mayor Dick Edwards said as the results came in. The proposed Bowling Green charter amendment was intended to give the community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate. But while that was the intent, critics said the words went far beyond those reasonable rights. Despite defeat on Tuesday, the group behind the charter amendment is not daunted, said Brad Holmes, of the Climate Protectors organization. “We’re going to keep our options open,” Holmes said. And while the issue failed at the polls, it succeeded at making people more aware of the threats from pipelines, he said. “We raised awareness about the severity of these type of issues in Bowling Green,” Holmes said. “We hope to inspire other communities to do such initiatives.” The Bowling Green Climate Protectors, saw the charter amendment as a way for citizens to intervene if the city does not adequately protect its citizens from harm to their environment. The charter amendment would have given citizens a right to peaceably protest projects such as the Nexus pipeline that is planned near Bowling Green’s water treatment plant in Middleton Township. However, the language of the charter amendment seemed to doom the proposal. “It’s a far reaching, almost anarchy type of proposal,” City Attorney Mike Marsh said. “It allows citizens on their own to take actions they deem necessary to protect the environment. It’s up to anybody’s interpretation.” The charter amendment proponents claimed the proposal was Bowling Green’s one chance to protect the city’s water treatment plant from the Nexus natural gas pipeline running 700 feet from the reservoir for the plant. But critics have said this amendment would have no impact on the Nexus pipeline plans. The majority of council members were opposed to the charter amendment and also stressed that the amendment had no place in the Bowling Green City Charter, which has been preserved for city government operations. City Council, however, did take action to deny easements to the pipeline, which gave the city more time to study the issue. Edwards brought in a panel of experts to discuss the threats from the pipeline, and has written letters to legislators and the Ohio EPA expressing concerns. Now the city’s focus, Edwards said, must be to make sure Nexus pipeline meets all the safety standards as it is installed near the city’s water reservoir and as it crosses the Maumee River. “The challenge all along has been to do everything we possibly can to protect our Bowling Green Water Treatment Plant in Middleton Township,” the mayor said.

Last pitch made for BG charter amendment proposal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the eve of the Tuesday’ election, proponents of the Bowling Green charter amendment made one last big pitch for the proposal to City Council Monday. And city officials, whose efforts had been questioned and criticized by the proponents for the past year, ended up thanking the college students behind the proposal for their passion and sincerity. The evening ended with a handshake between Mayor Dick Edwards and Brad Holmes, one of driving forces behind the charter amendment. On Tuesday, Bowling Green voters will determine whether or not the anti-pipeline amendment becomes a part of the city charter. Three BGSU students stood up Monday to defend the charter amendment. Alex Bishop, who is originally from Mansfield, said the Rover pipeline runs about a half mile from her home and spilled thousands of gallons of hazardous material that destroyed a wetlands. She doesn’t want to see something similar happen near her “second home” of BGSU. “This issue is really important to me,” Bishop said. “I wanted a chance to come here and talk about it.” Holmes said the charter amendment proposal had to jump through several hoops to even get on the ballot. “I’m just very happy we made it this far,” he said. Though the wording of the charter amendment has been criticized, the purpose of the proposal is to empower city officials and the community to reject plans for a pipeline that could be potentially dangerous, he said. “We’re very confident, if passed,” the wording would help the city put a stop to a pipeline. With the power of eminent domain, “communities are at the negative receiving end” of pipeline projects, Holmes said. Another BGSU student, Ross Martin took the podium next and questioned the value of Nexus’ offer to pay the city about $80,000 to go across city land located in Middleton Township near the Bowling Green water treatment plant reservoir. Even if that amount were $1 million, divided among the city’s 30,000 residents, that would be like saying “we would like to endanger your water for $33.33,” Martin said. Martin said fighting for health and safety, and inspiring others to do the same, are “noble” efforts. “We have that opportunity to inspire others,” he said. After the students completed their comments, Mayor Dick Edwards offered an impromptu response. “I understand your passion. I understand it totally,” said Edwards, who has worked at several universities. The mayor also agreed that Holmes was “absolutely correct” in his comments when he talked about municipalities being virtually powerless against pipelines. The cities of Green and Oberlin are still battling Nexus, but their communities are actually being cut by the pipeline, Edwards said. Waterville’s charter amendment empowers that city to refuse a construction permit. But that will likely be overruled. In Bowling Green’s case, the pipeline is not coming into the city. It is crossing a 28-acre parcel the city owns in Middleton Township, close to the city’s reservoir. “We’re trying to do everything we possibly can,” the mayor said. “Obviously we don’t want what has happened in southeast Ohio to happen here.” Edwards has received guarantees from the Ohio EPA and FERC that those organizations will monitor the pipeline construction near the water plant, especially at the river crossing. “I just hope that you understand a lot of us have taken this very seriously,” the mayor said to the students. “We’ve heard you time and again.” Edwards said he knows of no community that has been successful in stopping a pipeline, unless it is going through the city itself. “All we can do…

Statement by Mayor Richard Edwards on the Nexus Pipeline

Statement by BG Mayor Richard A. Edwards November 1, 2017 No one single issue has caused me more distress in my role as Mayor than the Nexus pipeline issue. As a person who has long been sympathetic with environmental causes and concerns, I personally have developed a huge distaste for more and more pipelines as a matter of course and I understand fully the passion of individuals who feel the same way. Since first being made aware of the NEXUS pipeline routing, my personal concern, and a concern shared by all members of City Council, has been to protect in every way possible the City’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant on the Maumee River in Middleton Township which processes drinking water for residents of Bowling Green, much of Wood County and the City of Waterville. That has been our focus all along knowing that a local government cannot override a decision made by the federal government. Good, bad or otherwise, its basic government. We have tried as best we can to heighten public awareness and raise concerns about potential threats to the water treatment plant. I’m grateful to some invaluable assists from any number of thoughtful scientists and citizens in this regard. I’m also grateful to the Director of the Ohio EPA, Craig Butler, and his senior staff and water resource specialists for their cooperation and understanding of BG concerns. When construction begins, near the water treatment plant with a pipeline going under the Maumee River, I have been assured and re-assured by the EPA and other agencies of government that every effort will be made to monitor the project to ensure public safety and our drinking water. Sadly, the promoters of an amendment to the City Charter are attempting to mislead voters into believing that adoption of the amendment will prevent construction of the pipeline. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pipeline project has nothing to do with the physical boundaries, i.e., the city limits of BG proper. The issue is with Middleton Township and the crossing of the pipeline there some 9 miles from BG but within 700 feet of the NE corner of the reservoir. The real challenge for us all is to apply every effort possible to ensure strict compliance with all of the 39 conditions set forth for the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

‘Does anyone represent the voters in Bowling Green?’ – Paul Wohlfarth

Bowling Green City Attorney Mike Marsh silently signed away the city’s easement rights to the Nexus pipeline on October 11th. Then later Mayor Dick Edwards publicly decreed that he and his team will be watching the NEXUS pipeline river crossing as if NEXUS cares. Congressman Bob Latta, the absent representative to all this, signed a letter along with 83 other well oiled representatives to call on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prosecute any pipeline protestors as terrorists. Does anyone represent the voters in Bowling Green? https://buck.house.gov/sites/buck.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Protecting%20Energy%20Infrastructure.pdf Paul Wohlfarth Ottawa Lake, Mi

Nexus pipeline offers BG $80,000 to cross city land

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier this month, Nexus pipeline officials filed a lawsuit against all holdout property owners. Bowling Green was one of those communities that had refused to grant the pipeline an easement to cross its land. This time around, the pipeline company was armed with eminent domain. On Oct. 11, Bowling Green agreed to a magistrate’s order to join in settlement discussions. And on Friday, the city received an offer of nearly $80,000 from Nexus to cross city-owned land in Middleton Township. “They were granted eminent domain powers. Now they’re exercising it,” said Bowling Green City Attorney Mike Marsh. But local pipeline protesters see it differently. They see it as the city selling out. “This morning we checked court records and found that on October 11 Mike Marsh silently signed away the city’s easement rights to Nexus pipeline,” Lisa Kochheiser stated. “The city has betrayed citizens’ trust and has scandalously kept it to themselves.” Last December, Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to not grant as easement for the Nexus pipeline. Concerns were expressed about the pipeline route running just 700 feet from the city’s reservoir at the water treatment plant. “They have failed to inform the public that they aren’t willing to stand up for the will of the people,” Kochheiser continued. But Marsh said the city and other holdout landowners across the state have lost to eminent domain. All that remains to be determined is the dollar amount that will be paid. “We’re all under orders to try to negotiate settlements by Nov. 3,” he said. City officials have yet to discuss the $80,000 offer. “The real issue now is compensation.” However, Kochheiser and attorney Terry Lodge pointed out that the village of Waterville continues to refuse compliance with the Nexus lawsuit. “The Village of Waterville has denied compliance with the Nexus lawsuit and is standing up for the rights of residents who passed their charter amendment prohibiting pipelines last year,” Kochheiser stated. Waterville legal director Phil Dombey instead filed a reply, claiming that the village’s local charter amendment forbids the community from consenting. Marsh said Waterville isn’t allowed to enter into negotiations because of its charter amendment. Marsh added that Bowling Green did not give in on granting an easement. “There’s been no grant of an easement,” he said. But since the pipeline has been given eminent domain powers, the city isn’t fighting it. “We’re not contesting their ability to condemn the property,” Marsh said. According to Lodge, Bowling Green’s action has given Nexus the ability to start construction on city-owned property. “The City of BG has expressly consented to  immediate possession – that is, Nexus can commence this moment to build across the BG land,” Lodge stated. “Immediate possession is a point of law that is being disputed by Oberlin and certainly Waterville and other property owners along the way, and the cases are divided on whether immediate possession is constitutional.  Mike Marsh and the mayor have executed a complete and total laydown, without mentioning it publicly. This was deliberate, in order to make the charter amendment moot. It won’t, but it will not be surprising to see trenching and intense activity happening along this part of the Nexus route sooner than might otherwise have been the situation.  By consenting so quickly, the city may have enabled accelerated construction across Wood County.” Before this month, Nexus had already negotiated voluntary acquisition of easements on 97 percent of the tracts of land needed along the pipeline route. The project stretches 257.5 miles across Ohio and Michigan, to reach Canada with its…

“Please vote YES for the Charter Amendment” – Jennifer Karches

Please vote Yes for the Charter Amendment (CA). This amendment will return some of the home rule rights that Ohio elected officials have systematically stripped away from us over the years. Actually, the CA has already done that, as the Ohio Supreme Court decision on October 13, 2017 affirmed, “…Boards of Election do NOT have the authority to sit as arbiters of the legality or constitutionality of a ballot measure’s substantive terms.” This strikes down the last minute addition to HB463, passed in December 2016, that gave the power to B’sOE to strike down ballot issues. Ballot issues that have followed Ohio law and have thousands of signatures of citizens; a right Ohio citizens have enjoyed for over a century without fear of scrutiny and interference. Pipelines are being built in our area now, and more are to come, with the recent federal legislation allowing fossil fuels to be exported for sale to other countries. There are other threats, too. Back in 2013 I spoke with a family living on the south end of town that was contacted about selling their mineral rights. How would you like having gas wells in town? With pipelines nearby this scenario looks increasingly likely. Our city council has not acted on behalf of citizens, but they and others are spreading far-fetched scenarios of hypothetical situations that won’t happen. There will not be mass anarchy and mayhem in the streets. According to the CA, citizens can peacefully enforce their rights IF the city does not. Of course the city will follow the law. I received in the mail a recycled version of a pamphlet that was used against the CA in 2013, which also spread essentially “made up” scenarios that had no basis in fact. This pamphlet stated that the CA would “prohibit the infrastructure for fossil fuel transportation within the City of BG.” This is a lie by omission. The critical part omitted: “…EXCEPT for infrastructure to transport fossil fuels to end-users with Wood County.” If the opposition has to take ballot language out of context in order to turn people against the CA, then I question the strength of all of their arguments. Last year the city of Waterville passed a similar Citizens’ Bill of Rights and there has not been mass anarchy and mayhem in the streets. In fact, what did happen, was the Waterville City Council told Nexus/Endbridge they were not allowed, per their Charter, to use city roads for pipeline construction, which would make it impossible for the pipeline to be built on its proposed path through the village. This Citizens’ Bill of Rights is reasonable and beneficial for all their citizens. I am sure the citizens of Waterville are grateful to have this legal protection, where before they were absolutely powerless to stop this massive, polluting project from cutting through their city. Please vote YES for the Charter Amendment. Jennifer Karches Bowling Green