The German Village Society experienced a setback last week in its quest to keep Columbia Gas of Ohio from moving natural-gas meters to the exterior of some residential and business properties.

Judge Julie M. Lynch of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on June 1 dismissed a request seeking a temporary restraining order against Columbia Gas based on jurisdictional grounds. Lynch said the court does not have the authority to hear the case and it is up to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to settle the matter.

Lynch did not address the merits of the case.

Nancy Kotting, historic preservation advocate for the society, expressed optimism despite the judge's ruling.

"Not obtaining the TRO means very, very little in the big picture," Kotting said. "We are gaining momentum, full steam ahead.

"Right now, we have over 100 residents who have joined our formal complaint (filed against Columbia Gas with the PUCO), and we are just beginning."

"We are still vigorously pursuing this at the PUCO," said Christopher Allwein, an attorney representing the society.

Columbia Gas is replacing sections of gas lines in the neighborhood and gas company officials say moving meters to the exterior of properties is a matter of safety. The work is expected to be completed by mid-August.

German Village Society officials, however, said they believe given the configuration of streets and sidewalks in German Village, moving meters outside presents an unsafe situation. They also argue due consideration should be given the neighborhood's historic status.

On June 2, Kristin Begg, a spokeswoman for Columbia Gas, said "We are satisfied with yesterday's outcome by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

"We are pleased that the court recognizes that this case belongs at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

"As we continue our work in the German Village area, we are committed to meeting with each of our customers to determine the best location for their meter."