Charter talks increase at council meeting

Debate continued over the proposed charter amendment, which seeks to increase the rights and powers of Bowling Green residents to make laws and sustain a healthy environment, at a city council meeting Monday evening.

With the amendment on the November voting ballot, council members and residents have taken firm stances and have actively voiced their opinions.

“BG residents are caught in the crosshairs of the fossil fuel industry,” city resident Lisa Kochheiser said. She opened Monday night’s city council lobby time by stating her concerns about future fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the city, referring to controversial issues surrounding the Nexus pipeline.

Kochheiser mentioned the possibility of a second Nexus pipeline pending approval after construction of the first has been completed. She said the charter amendment was a way to prevent and limit such fossil fuel undertakings.

Bowling Green resident Sally Mott followed Kochheiser’s remarks by emphasizing the importance of a charter amendment as opposed to the passage of a traditional ordinance.

“State law pre-empts city ordinances,” Mott said. “Any city ordinance is powerless with regard to the oil and gas industry. The charter gives us power to choose what is put on our lands.”

Council members Robert McOmber and Bruce Jeffers came out in strong opposition to the amendment, citing concerns over the amendment’s intentions and negative implications related to amending the city’s charter.

“It looks like a power grab, and it’s terrible legislation,” McOmber said. “This is special interest legislation brought to council based on extreme views.”

McOmber said allowing interest groups to amend the city’s charter would set a troubling precedent that could lead to the city’s charter becoming cluttered and unsystematic.

He also addressed multiple points of ambiguity within the language of the amendment, referencing issues with the “Right to Enforcement” clause saying Bowling Green law enforcement would be left powerless to intervene in nonviolent protesting.

In light of McOmber’s statement, BGSU Environmental Action Group president, Brad Holmes, argued for the necessity of the amendment.

“It is an unprecedented initiative in Bowling Green,” Holmes said. “And we’ll be continuing to face unprecedented advances from the fossil fuel industry. It’s going to take more than city ordinances to keep fossil fuels out.”

Both McOmber and Holmes urged Bowling Green residents to read in detail the entirety of the amendment before casting their votes. The Wood County Board of Elections has sample ballots outlining the full text of each issue on its website, and residents are encouraged to view them before casting their vote.