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Protect BG Attorney claims city misinterpreted charter amendment

“Ludicrous” and “ridiculous” is how Attorney Terry Lodge described the city’s estimation that the charter amendment would increase utility rates during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Lodge, who is representing Protect BG, which petitioned for the amendment to ban fracking, claimed Utilities Director Brian O’Connell misinterpreted its language when estimating an 86 percent increase in electric rates and a 35 percent increase in water and sewer rates. The city also enacted a coalition against the proposed ordinance earlier this month.

“O’Connell has taken the aspirational language of the amendment and turned it into as if the city were being flogged into doing it,” Lodge said.

The proposed charter amendment not only outlaws fracking and storage of wastewater, but the creation of “fossil fuel” production facilities such as pipelines and storage facilities by any corporation.

The amendment will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Lodge contested that the city wasn’t a corporation and therefore is not restricted by the amendment unlike other businesses. He further suggested council receive actual legal advice.

When City Attorney Mike Marsh gave his legal perspective, he reminded Lodge that the wording of the amendment said “any corporation,” which would include the city.

Some city council members expressed their discontent with how Lodge conducted his response toward O’Connell and the city.

“I don’t think we need to have a discussion where we attack others’ opinions,” said Mike Aspacher, Third Ward council member. “At the end of the day, we all have the same thing on our mind and that’s protecting the citizens of Bowling Green.”

Aspacher said both council and the petitioners have the same goal, but have different methods of doing so: council enacted an ordinance banning fracking while the petitioners are attempting to amend the city charter.

While Lodge and council volleyed arguments back and forth, At-Large Council Member Sandy Rowland suggested when the election was over that the two groups sit down and iron out any issues.

“I don’t want fracking,” Rowland said. “I am pretty sure no one wants it. If there are any issues we could agree on, I’d love to sit down together.”

Also at council:

Residents praised council for deciding to make Ridge School a green space, creating a park in the area.

Municipal Administrator John Fawcett announced that 140 applicants applied for a job opening at the Fire Division. The applicants are going through physical agility tests at Carter Park from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Wednesday.

Public Works Director Brian Craft announced leaf collection started and crews will make four passes through the city by December.

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