Green City Council voted 4-3 Wednesday night to settle with the builders of the NEXUS, after suing to stop the construction of the natural gas pipeline.
The city of Green has four lawsuits pending against NEXUS, and won a temporary stay of pipeline work. But the litigation hasn’t been going well for the city, and the city expected the stay to be lifted.
So when NEXUS made a settlement offer for $7.5 million, the city’s lawyers advised Mayor Gerard Neugebauer to take it. Neugebauer relayed the deal to Columbus City Council, albeit reluctantly.
“I had a sinking feeling in my stomach,” he said. “I didn’t think it would come to this. It’s not something I want to do. It’s something I’m compelled to do.”
While city leaders were split on the deal, many residents were not. At a special session of Green City Council, all but one public speaker criticized the deal, many on practical grounds.
“Do you have a safety net built in when you determine that they have lied to you, so that you can back out of this agreement?” asked Jane Karl of New Franklin.
The Mayor mentioned that this has never been about money,” said Justin Lianti of Green. “But if we’re going to settle, it better be about money. And it better be about much more money than they’re offering.”
Council members chose not to answer the questions posed during the meeting. They said they wanted to maximize the time available for citizen comment.
NEXUS says it will listen to residents’ concerns in exchange for the city dropping its legal actions.