City Council said at its committee meeting Monday it will write a letter to state legislators urging them to oppose an amendment by AT&T that would allow a wireless antenna to be put on any municipal buildings, and introduced a resolution to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline.
The council will send a letter to state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-30th District, and Representative Debbie Phillips, D-94th District, as well as members of the finance committee of the state legislature, asking them to oppose AT&T’s amendment to the Ohio legislature. Mayor Steve Patterson’s office also sent a letter to the state legislature with the same message.
“We are writing to express our concern that this at this point has not gone through any legislative hearings or meetings with municipalities, and we encourage them to oppose this,” Council President Chris Knisely said.
The council agreed to issue a copy of the letter to the newly elected state legislators — Republicans Jay Edwards and Frank Hoagland — so that they can also be up to date on these issues.
Councilmember Jennifer Cochran, D-At Large, introduced a resolution to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline on behalf of the City & Safety Services Committee. She said the opposition is in response to concerns from several community members about the situation in Standing Rock. Although the issue is far away from Athens, Cochran said there is a connection because of water rights issues.
“The city of Athens has taken a strong stance about the importance of protecting our water supply,” Cochran said. “It’s a resolution to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in opposition to construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.”
The resolution states that the city of Athens recognizes the right of all people to clean water and has acted to protect its own water supply by establishing protection and legislation governing the activities in that area.
Cochran said the proposed pipeline is in violation of several treaties, and the city of Athens is standing in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s opposition of construction of pipeline across the tribe’s ancestral lands, water and sacred sites.
The resolution also calls upon the United States and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the free prior and informed consent of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe before taking any federal action, since the pipeline will harm the tribe’s land.
“I know that there are citizens who are out there from Athens at the moment supporting this peaceful protest,” Cochran said.
The Council also heard a presentation from a representative for the National League of Cities Residential Service Line Program, which partners with communities to offer a voluntary program that transfers the responsibility of water, sewer and plumbing lines from homeowners to the company for a few dollars a month.
The program wants to raise awareness of the issue, since most people do not realize these water lines are the homeowner’s responsibility, not the city’s, and are usually not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
The program would be of no cost to the city, but the city could collect a small share of the revenue collected from the program.
Former Athens City Council President Bill Bias spoke encouraging the Council to accept a land donation from Athens Health Realty. The plot of land is 45 acres of mostly wooded areas east of Columbus Road. Bias approached Frank Murphy, who currently owns the plot of land, about donating it to the city and said he hopes the Council will accept.
City Council will meet next Monday at 7 p.m. in the city building.