Hebron gets better pipeline deal
HEBRON – A decision to engage a Columbus law firm specializing in eminent domain law to handle easement negotiations for the proposed Atex Enterprise pipeline has paid big dividends.
The path of the 20 inch diameter pipeline carrying ethane from Pennsylvania to Texas includes about 8,000 feet in The Dawes Arboretum. It also crosses through Hebron’s wellfield just north of the South Fork of the Licking River before crossing under I-70 into Fairfield County.
William Goldman of Goldman & Braunstein LLP told council members January 9 that the pipeline is a reality and can use eminent domain to acquire easements if property owners object.
Enterprise wants a 50 foot permanent easement plus a wider one for construction. About 2.5 acres of the wellfield would be affected. Goldman said Enterprise offered Hebron $16,000 for the easement.
Goldman first tried to get Enterprise to change the routing so it wouldn’t cross the wellfield. That effort was rejected since Enterprise is paralleling an existing natural gas pipeline that’s already crossing the wellfield. Neither will be within 300 feet of a well.
Council members Pam DeVaul and Annelle Porter were particularly concerned about the route. Goldman said the ethane line poses little threat of groundwater contamination since ethane will vaporize and doesn’t contain benezene which does contaminate groundwater.
He explained that Enterprise doesn’t want to use eminent domain since that could tie the project up in court for years. With that motivation, Enterprise is now offering $275,000 for the easement which Goldman hopes to increase to $300,000. Enterprise will also provide insurance to cover the cost of restoring Hebron’s wellfield should it somehow be affected. “If they create a problem, they will solve it,” Goldman told council members.
The pipeline will also be installed deeper than originally planned – now 66 inches to the top of the pipe instead of 36 inches.
Construction will begin as soon as weather cooperates. Goldman, who also represents Dawes, said clearing will start there in early February.
Neither DeVaul or Porter were satisfied with the much larger payment. “That’s the best we can do,” Goldman said.
Goldman & Braunstein will get 25 percent of the increase in the payment for the easement as their compensation. The village also paid $2,500 for an appraisal.
In other business January 9, council members, by a 5-1 vote, authorized the mayor and fiscal officer to enter into a $420,000 contract to provide fire/EMS services to Union Township. Last month, Mayor Clifford Mason broke a 3-3 tie to direct the village solicitor to draft the ordinance authorizing the contract. Council members Jim Friend, Scott Walters and DeVaul objected to the township’s $420,000 take it or leave it offer. Trustee Rick Black claimed that that’s all the township could afford. For years, Union Township has been paying 60 percent of the department’s operating expenses. Its share in 2013 would be about $650,000. DeVaul was the only “no” vote last week.
Village Administrator Ralph Wise announced that he had selected former employee Jason Figgins to replace Charlie Gray as water treatment plant supervisor. Figgins has spent the last seven years working in the Knox County water and wastewater departments. Wise said nine of the 10 application received met their qualifications and six were interviewed. Gray retired at the end of the year with more than 40 years service with Hebron.
Wise also announced that village administrative assistant Linda Nicodemus will temporarily serve as the Community Development Coordinator while he searches for a permanent coordinator. Andie Myers previously held the post.
Wise told council that Dave Medley is the new public works superintendent. Kenny Nauer still works in the department, but is no longer superintendent.
Though Canal Road reopened at Canal Park Dec. 17, the job is not complete. Weather conditions have delayed the final asphalt overlay until spring. The road condition is being closely monitored, Wise said.
Council members unanimously approved an ordinance granting a 1.5 percent pay increase to all non-safety employees. Wages had been frozen for the last two years. Firefighters and police officers received increases more recently. Future raises will be linked to individual employee evaluations, but council members are still discussing how to do it.
Council members unanimously supported DeVaul’s motion to schedule council meetings 30 minutes earlier. If council members approve the resolution next week, starting in February council will meet on the second and fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. The combined committees meeting is set for 6 p.m. on the Monday between the two monthly council meetings.
During their reorganizational meeting, council members unanimously elected Bob Gilbert as council president. He replaces Porter.
Mason made the following committee appointments:
Finance: DeVaul chair, Porter and Walters.
Safety: Alayna Morris chair, Friend and DeVaul.
Water/Wastewater: Friend chair, Walters and Morris.
Public Works: Walters chair, Porter and Gilbert.
Parks/Recreation: Porter chair, Morris and Gilbert.
Personnel/Annexation/Insurance: Gilbert chair, DeVaul and Friend.