A plan to move natural-gas meters to the exterior of some properties in German Village is facing some resistance.
The German Village Society is against the plan and issued a preservation-action alert asking residents to join in condemning Columbia Gas of Ohio's proposal to install new meters on the outside of properties in the historic district.
Columbia Gas officials have pledged to work with the Society on meter relocation but have not announced specific plans about what that might entail.
At issue is the gas company's line-replacement effort that will affect 122 residential and business customers. The work, set to begin this summer, is reported to include the replacement of natural-gas meters that are inside homes and businesses.
"The goal of our projects in German Village and across the state is to enhance the safety and reliability of our system," Kristin Begg, spokeswoman for the public utility, said in a prepared statement.
"The system is designed with meters to be located on the outside as part of our commitment to safety.
"We will continue to work with the city of Columbus Historic Preservation Office, German Village Society and residents on the proposed meter locations," the release continued. "We look forward to sitting down with the Society and continuing our dialogue.
"We have moved meters outside in other historic districts and worked closely with historical societies and residents to establish mutually agreeable locations," Begg said.
Meters are installed on the exterior of properties "so they are in direct line of sight for first responders," Begg said. "In case of an emergency, first responders can easily locate and shut off the flow of gas quickly."
It's also a matter of convenience for residents and workers, who would have to periodically inspect the devices, she said.
The gas company will hold a public meeting prior to the work so residents can ask questions about the project, she said.
Meters are on the exterior of some German Village properties but not in the type of clusters associated with the work being considered by Columbia Gas, said Shiloh Todorov, executive director of the German Village Society.
"We don't want them out in the rest of the neighborhood," Todorov said.
In its alert, posted March 15 on germanvillage.com, the Society officials wrote:
"The German Village Society is unequivocally opposed to this relocation effort by Columbia Gas of Ohio 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."
Society officials are asking residents to contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to amend its rules, demanding Columbia Gas of Ohio leave the gas meters inside the properties both in German Village and other historic districts.
"The existing regulatory powers of Columbia Gas is with PUCO and only consumers can make complaints," Todorov said.
"So the Society doesn't have any standing with PUCO to make the change. They have to hear it from customers."