Five people left Pataskala City Hall angry Monday, July 1 after Pataskala City Council voted 4-3 to turn down a resolution opposing United Nations Agenda 21, a plan passed in 1992 to promote sustainable development.
"Council has to back up and reconsider this," said Eileen DeRolf of Pataskala. "Pataskala missed an opportunity to forward an understanding of exactly how the UN is attempting to undermine local government."
The resolution was introduced by Pataskala City Councilman Bernard Brush.
Brush, Mike Compton and Mike Fox voted in favor of the resolution. Dan Hayes, Bryan Lenzo, Merissa McKinstry and Pat Sagar voted against it.
Brush said the resolution is nonbinding to the city but would have sent a message to residents saying that Pataskala City Council would abide by the state's constitution and the city charter and try to protect people's personal property rights.
Brush said he believes Agenda 21 encourages limits on private ownership of family farms and transportation facilities and ties federal grants to transportation projects that may not be right for the city.
"This is nonbinding language that protects our citizens and shows that we have good planning in the future," he said. "It allows us to go on the record as saying we're going to watch it."
"It is a positive message to pass on to the residents of this community," he said. "It says we won't say no to grants but we will look at the strings attached to grants."
Fox stressed how different Pataskala is from other cities in central Ohio, saying people can hunt in their back yards. Compton also stressed how different and rural Pataskala is, talking about herding some neighbor's cows that got out on the street.
"A large part of our area wants to be and needs to be and is very happy being rural," Compton said.
Lenzo said he could not support the resolution because it isn't binding and states what he believes his duty as a city councilman is. He said he is a strong supporter of individual property rights and called the resolution "redundant."
Hayes agreed that what's in the resolution already is part of council's oath of office. He said his fear is that the resolution could be used in the future to delay council action on grant applications, which could cause the city to lose funding.
"A lot of grants have a timeline and if you can't get the application in place, you miss out that year," Hayes said.
McKinstry said council should be considering each grant application and project separately, looking at each issue individually.
DeRolf expressed strong disappointment after the vote, as did several others who live outside Pataskala and said they are against Agenda 21.
Anna Rehl of Newark, Leon Neisius of Baltimore, Angelo Campanella of Hilliard and Linda Hoffman of Pickerington all spoke in favor of the resolution and against Agenda 21.
Neisius compared Agenda 21 to socialism and Hoffman said council has not read Agenda 21 if members do not know that it states that single-family, freestanding houses are not sustainable.
Council on June 17 received a report from city staff that said adopting the Agenda 21 resolution could make it more difficult to receive grant funding and could make it seem that Pataskala is not interested in efficient planning.
DeRolf also testified at that meeting, saying that the staff's conclusions were incorrect.