Village Council

Council votes down streetscape plan, supports fracking ban

Village Council at its Aug. 20 meeting made two unexpected decisions on issues of local interest. A majority of Council members voted against the controversial street scape redesign project, and Council went against the advice of its law director to support a municipal ban on fracking and injection wells.

About 50 villagers attended the meeting to speak on these and other issues.

Council voted 3–2 against the street scape project, with Judith Hempfling, Rick Walkey and Lori Askeland voting against the project and Karen Wintrow and Gerry Simms in support. The project, which included removing all downtown pear trees, has sparked village controversy for the past several months. At this point, Council is not moving forward with any aspect of the project, and Council members tasked Village Manager Laura Curliss with bringing alternative proposals to its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

In another unexpected move, a majority of Council members voted in favor of a local ban on fracking and injection wells in Yellow Springs, a proposal brought by a group of concerned citizens. The ban states that the municipality has the authority to outlaw the practices of the oil and gas industry within municipal borders, a stance that runs counter to a state law that gives all such authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which has favored these industries. Council Law Director John Chambers had recommended that Council not support the ban, as it could open up the Village to lawsuits from oil and gas companies.

But at the Aug. 20 meeting, the majority of Council stated that the risk of damage to local air and water from the oil and gas industry is greater than the risk of potential lawsuits, and voted in favor of the ban. Hempfling, Askeland and Walkey voted in favor, Simms opposed the ban, and Wintrow abstained.

For more detailed stories, see the Aug. 26 Yellow Springs News.

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