The German Village Society has reached an agreement with Columbia Gas of Ohio regarding the relocation of gas meters within the district as part of Columbia Gas's pipeline upgrade project.

We are proud to have a new partner in preservation.

Read the settlement from the link on our Advocate's Blog at

It outlines that when meters are moved outside, preference should be given to locating meters in the rear of a building and Columbia Gas will encourage customers to include the Society in its meter relocation conversations so the Society can offer input regarding historic preservation.

This is a win for our national-preservation-standard-bearer neighborhood.

Rear facades as the preferred location for all gas meters answers both concerns posed by the Society in its formal complaint.

First, we are in full agreement with Columbia Gas that public safety is our No. 1 priority and feel strongly that preference for placement of gas meters on rear facades accommodates the unique attributes of German Village, specifically our narrow streets and alleyways.

These narrow public throughways, occasionally accompanied by inconsistent curbs, often include reduced set-back distances for some of our homes and businesses.

Rear facade locations for gas meters might assist homeowners in reducing the meter's proximity to vehicular traffic.

Secondly, gas meters located at the rear won't be visible from the public throughway.

This is in compliance with preservation standards recognized at both the state and national level. National preservation standards address what is referred to as the primacy of the facades.

This term is used to describe the priority of retaining the architectural and historical integrity of those aspects of structures visible from public throughways in historic districts.

In essence, the front facade is considered the most sacred.

German Village Society officials are satisfied with the way the agreement prioritizes location of meters to the rear of structures, which will, in the majority of cases, will hide them from view from public throughways.

If the PUCO accepts the agreement, and we feel confident it will, then we also have that body's enforcement mechanisms if needed.

But we know we are beginning a true partnership with Columbia Gas -- and they've shown us that not only in accepting the primacy of the facade, but in helping us invest.

As part of our settlement with Columbia Gas, we will have the opportunity to leverage our existing sidewalk grant program to improve sidewalks in the path of Columbia upgrades.

Columbia Gas is required to put back sidewalks, curbs and roadways as they found them. But this agreement goes one better.

By working with the society and property owners, Columbia will contribute to the cost of sidewalk repair alongside society dollars to impact the neighborhood's pedestrian walkways.

We appreciate the sensitivity Columbia Gas has demonstrated via this settlement to maintaining the historic integrity of German Village.

The success of the district to date and going forward is intimately tied to our ability to retain those attributes of the village determined to be contributing to our status as a nationally significant cultural asset.

The vigilant maintenance of our preservation standards ensures that the legacy of those immigrants who originally built our cherished neighborhood, the hard work and diligence of those who took a risk, picked up a shovel, a paintbrush or a hammer and began the restoration of it, will be protected for all future generations.

German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column .