It’s been a year since we undertook a process to defend the German Village Historic District.
Columbia Gas wanted to take meters out of our basements as part of their pipeline upgrade. That upgrade was required of them by the feds.
But the gas company’s preference is to put meters on the fronts of homes, and in German Village, that just won’t work. Tight sidewalks, lots of pedestrians – and, oh yeah, the results of a district that has been protected by ordinance since 1963.
Protected from shoddy architectural work, but not – unfortunately – protected from utility work by service provides immune to the Commission.
After some intense grassroots advocacy and some legal wrangling, we got Columbia Gas to the table to negotiate a settlement. The German Village Society reached an agreement with Columbia Gas of Ohio regarding the relocation of gas meters within the district as part of Columbia Gas’s pipeline upgrade project.
Here are five things you’ve probably already forgotten about the Columbia Gas agreement outcomes:
- Protecting German Village’s preservation standards is what the Society does. If we don’t put a line in the sand about how the district is treated, we get treated like every other neighborhood.
- Allowing meters by default on the front of homes is another drop in the drip-drip-drip of losing our charm and historic status over time. You wish we’d stood up to overhead power lines and shoddy curbs starting 60 years ago? So do I! But we have to start somewhere in order to get some traction and avoid death by 1,000 papercuts.
- The result of the Columbia Gas agreement has already netted results with other utilities. AEP and AT&T have both been in contact with GVS this winter to talk about projects before they begin. That’s what we wanted! A seat at the table before the plans are final.
- The agreement is binding and enforceable through Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. So, even for those neighbors who had a conversation with Columbia that resulted in the meter placement at the rear, prior to our agreement – that was nothing better than the luck of the draw. Making Columbia a preservation partner levels the playing field across the district.
- German Village Society has always been a national leader in preservation. Frank & Elnora Fetch, Bill Scheurer, Dorothy Fischer – these founders were WAY ahead of their time in figuring out the secret sauce of saving our unique spaces. We want to remain at the forefront 60 years later, not only to improve today’s quality of life but honor our legacy. It’s our turn as Caretakers.
OK, and I’m going to give you the sixth as a bonus. The mission of German Village Society is NOT to raise your property values. But there’s just no way to deny that the OUTCOMES of our mission-centric work, like spending money to fight for an agreement with Columbia Gas, has that effect. Our most recent data from 2014 shows that while home values across Columbus rose 4.7% in that year, values in German Village rose 9.4%.
The German Village Society is working cooperatively with Columbia Gas to execute the terms of our agreement on each and every structure impacted by the pipeline upgrade project. We are available to meet with homeowners at the time they meet with Columbia Gas representatives to determine the best location on the exterior of their home for the meter, at the homeowner’s request. To learn more call the German Village Historic Preservation Advocate at 614-221-8888.