The German Village Society on May 22 filed a formal complaint and a motion for injunction against Columbia Gas of Ohio with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, as well as a temporary restraining order request in Common Pleas Court.
The next move is yours as a stakeholder.
We've come to the part of this fight where public outcry is more powerful than attorneys. You are the public -- about which PUCO cares -- and for Columbia, you are the customer. The more community involvement we can show, the stronger our legal requests become.
So do at least one of these things to help (links for each are on our website):
* Sign on to the formal complaint.
* Write a letter to PUCO.
* Use your voice -- and that means: plant a yard sign or help us amplify our message by sharing on social media.
Here's where we sit:
The German Village Society wants your gas meters indoors, because to bring them outdoors creates an adverse effect -- a blight -- on the neighborhood you love so much. It undermines more than five decades of consistent, focused effort to revitalize the historic elements of this community.
No one knows better than you how much of your valuable time and money you have invested in your home here in the Village.
Columbia Gas does not have to answer to the German Village Commission. But because you are their customer, they should be willing or be required, to work within the same rules you follow in this fragile, special historic district in order to preserve its historic character.
There's precedent for this request, by the way. At least three other states -- one in which Columbia already works -- have legislative requirements for the gas company to treat historic districts with care.
The German Village Society started this fight from a position of our expertise -- preservation. We started it in order to protect the Village, and your investment in it.
And by the way, the National Trust for Historic Preservation believes in our fight -- and it has issued a letter supporting us.
What we found along the way however surprised, and alarmed, us. As it turns out, no one in the entire country has ever determined the answer to a very simple question: Are gas meters safer on the inside of a building or on the outside?
Historic Preservation Advocate Nancy Kotting did some first-rate research and found that gas meters located outside drive incidents that involve death or property damage in excess of $50,000 at a rate of approximately 90 percent greater than meters indoors.
We need to know what's safe, and no study exists that we can find. The petition that many of you signed, and that we sent this week to the mayor and the governor, asks that they come out in favor of an independent safety study.
I also want to speak to the board's decision to hire attorneys. The firm we chose won our business because their strategy is to lead with advocacy, already our bailiwick, and back that advocacy up with attorneys.
The board has a laser-focused eye on what we can afford and what we believe this action represents for the mission.
Preservation is at the heart of our mission, so ignoring this threat would not align with the reason you support us in the first place.
We can't spend forever, but we at least have to get Columbia's attention and have a REAL conversation about their plans.
We exhausted the informal -- and free -- process, during which we offered three acceptable compromises and they offered zero.
The board has set the stage, and now we need you. Your next steps are at the top of this column.
And one more request -- if you really are a true believer: Support us financially. If you already renewed your membership or gave in another way, consider another gift.
If you are about to renew your membership gift, consider increasing that gift. Because Columbia isn't the only advocacy we need to do for the neighborhood.
German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.