Panel hears easement concerns

Local farmers protested against a Sunoco pipeline easement at a commissioners meeting Tuesday morning.

Sunoco agent Eric Vilhauer spoke to commissioners about getting a 50-foot-wide easement approved for county-owned land, but three local farm owners voiced their displeasure with the company seeking an easement on their properties.

Sunoco is looking to replace existing pipeline in Seneca County, but Vilhauer said the company is looking to re-route some of the line to avoid interfering with businesses.

“You say you don’t want to bother businesses so you’re re-routing it around business, but we’ve been approached and they want to go through our farm,” said Judy Goshe, who owns a farm with her husband Ed. “We are a business. And we contribute what we think is an important product – food.”

Vilhauer said any damage to land will be repaired by Sunoco.

Ed Goshe said when a tile is damaged, it takes years to be properly repaired.

Farmer John Decker said it took him six to seven years to fix and have tile working properly after an easement from BP Oil.

Decker said having a pipeline run through his property would make it difficult to sell his land.

“It’s kind of discouraging that they can come right in when you got 80 acres there, and you aren’t bothering anybody,” he said.

Vilhauer said construction is expected to begin in October and be completed by next spring.

County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said the legal form regarding the easement on county-owned property was fine.

County Engineer Mark Zimmerman said there is no problem with the use and placement of the easement on the county-owned property.

“Seems to me the biggest issue is private land owners, that they have to work that out with (Sunoco), and that has nothing to do with the county,” Commissioner Fred Zoeller said. “The real issue is the farmers, and they have legitimate concerns.”

In other business, commissioners approved two resolutions for the Cost Savings Incentive Program – one resolution establishing the program fund and the other establishing the program committee.

In the program, county employees are encouraged to make suggestions on how to save money in their departments. Department heads will in turn get approval from the committee, which consists of County Administrator Stacy Wilson, Zimmerman and County Auditor Julie Adkins.

Wilson said the program is classified as a “restricted item,” which requires state approval before the money can be put into a fund. Departments can start sending in suggestions, but incentives will not be given to employees until funds are available, pending state approval.

Also at the meeting, Don Corley of WSOS gave a public hearing for a look at the resources available for the Community Development Block Grant program.

Corley said the county is going to file an application for housing funds.

He said the money available is harder to get this year than in previous years due to government cuts, and said the application process is going to be a lot more competitive.

The grant is worth $400,000 and the application is due by April 5, Corley said.

Nadine Thompson, of WSOS Community Action, also spoke at the meeting about the fair housing portion of the Community Housing Improvement Program grant.

Thompson said fair housing education is a requirement to receive grant money.

She said fair housing law gives all people, especially people of protected classes, the right to live wherever they can afford to live.

Commissioners also received three bids from Ohio Bridge Corp., US Bridge Division for a bridge rehabilitation project that would repair three bridges in the county.

Zimmerman said repairing the bridges would cost about half of what a new bridge would, and the repairs are guaranteed to last 40 years.

He said 90 percent of repair costs would be covered by a federal grant.

Also at the meeting, Wilson said the Youth Center staff has requested to sell equipment from the old building and use the proceeds to buy equipment for the new facility.

Zoeller also said he has a meeting with Rep. Jim Jordan’s staff to discuss more information about a Seneca County job fair, which Zoeller hopes to have in mid- to late May.

In additional new business, the board approved a resolution granting permission to place an Ohio Historical Marker honoring Nettie Cronise, the first female lawyer in the state, on courthouse square.