The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has agreed to mediate a dispute concerning relocation of gas meters in German Village.

The commission is the regulatory agency for most public utilities. PUCO Officials said they are working with the German Village Society -- which is acting in behalf of residents -- and Columbia Gas over the proposed relocation of gas meters.

"At this point we're just trying to mediate this between the utility and customers, just to get the people together to see if they can resolve the dispute," said Matthew Schilling, spokesman for PUCO.

Columbia Gas of Ohio originally intended to complete gas-line repair this summer that would affect 112 residential and business customers in the village. No updated timeline has been released and no meeting between the factions in the gas meter dispute has been scheduled.

The public utility said it wants to move the natural-gas meters from inside structures to the exterior for safety reasons and matters of convenience for residents.

Schilling said it appears PUCO does not have the authority to stop the move because it doesn't violate service standards.

The German Village Society has been steadfastly opposed to Columbia Gas of Ohio's plan.

The Society's website says residents and the organization's leadership are opposed to Columbia's plan "... based on a potential adverse economic impact on the district, an anticipated negative impact on the historic character of our National Register of Historic Places listed historic district and related safety issues due to the density and urban location of the district."

Columbia Gas, which has not committed to moving the meters, reasserted its pledge to remain open-minded in the process, company spokeswoman Kristin Begg said.

"We continue to have conversation with the German Village Society and we will continue to work proactively with residents as we do with all of our projects," Begg said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

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