The NEXUS settlement has a community divided.
Following a 4-3 vote by council to approve a settlement with NEXUS on Feb. 7, a group of residents and members of council don’t see eye-to-eye.
During the Feb. 30 council meeting, several members of the community spoke out, voicing concerns about the pipeline and the process in which the settlement was approved. Council President Chris Humphrey asked the residents attending the meeting to bring the level of anger down “100 notches.”
Green resident Joel Helms claims the process to pass legislation outlined in the city’s charter was not followed.
Green resident Tammy Daly raised concerns about wells that are near the pipeline and encouraged anyone near the route to have their well tested before and after construction of the pipeline takes place. She encouraged the city to put information on its website about well testing so residents are aware.
Daly also raised concerns about better defining the pipeline’s blast zone and what areas would be affected if an accident were to occur. She wants a defined blast zone especially for the parks because of the sports teams that use them. Daly said if the city doesn’t have someone define it, she will have all the sports teams come together and pay to have this issue looked into.
Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer addressed Daly’s concerns and said the city has water testing kits that residents can come and get and the city will help with water testing. Neugebauer said he heard from one resident that they didn’t trust NEXUS to test their well, so they decided to have the city help them. He also said information will be going up on the city’s website.
Neugebauer also said a blast zone calculation has been given to the city engineer and officials will be using an outside professional to help determine the blast zone.
Green resident Tom Ebbott said the city agreeing to the settlement has divided the community.
“If people want to have a referendum don’t try and block it,” Ebbott said.
Council approved $200,000 in funding, which will go to several consultants that will oversee construction of the pipeline once it begins. NEXUS has already began clearing trees and the pipeline is expected to be installed this summer.
Humphrey said one of the good points of having the settlement is it allows for the city to have someone overseeing construction and if procedure isn’t being followed, it can be taken to federal court as a violation of the agreement.
Councilman Matthew Shaughnessy asked if the city has people in-house that could do this work, but he was told outside consultants would have more experience and knowledge of the issue.
Shaughnessy also said he plans to introduce legislation at the March 13 which would prevent any city money from being spent to fight the residents of Green who are working on a referendum to put the NEXUS settlement to a vote. The group collecting signatures for the referendum has already collected more than 1,000 signatures, which is more than needed to turn into the Board of Elections.
Humphrey said he is concerned the legislation Shaughnessy is proposing is unconstitutional and asked for the city’s law director to look into it.
Councilman Stephen Dyer said he wants the city to be open about what is going on with the project.
“I would like clarification if the city is going to formally oppose the referendum,” Dyer said.
Dyer also raised concerns about the 30 day rule to pass legislation, and believes it wasn’t followed. He also raised concerns about the city ending a more than thre-year fight with NEXUS in three days.
Humphrey said he has never seen a time where council has disagreed so much on an issue.
“I told people before the vote that no matter how the vote went, people were going to be unhappy,” Humphrey said.
He said citizens have a right to circulate the petition, but regardless, the pipeline is coming through Green.
“Before you start to get angry, stop and listen,” Humphrey said.
This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com