As this story was being researched and written, the Ohio Division of Agriculture despatched out a press launch Monday urging farmers To use for the Native Ag Easement Buy Program, for which $6,500,000 has been Put aside To assist Ohio farmers in “preserving productive agricultural farmland in perpetuity.”
In 1864, As a Outcome of the Civil Wrelaxationle raged in America, John Rausch purchased a 110-acre plot of land in What’s now Millcreek Township in southeast Union County. In 1871 George Renner launched a 120-acre parcel adjoining to Mr. Rausch’s place. Each the Rauschs and the Renners raised households and being neighbors Inside the horse-and-buggy period, it was solely pure thOn their youngsters married The women and boys subsequent door. The households (and farms) turned linked and both properties have been Inside the palms of George Renner’s descfinishants ever since. Definitely one of many parcels is held by Charles Renner and trustee Don Bailey and The completely different by Don’s son, Patrick, and his spouse Whitney, the Baileys additionally being descfinishants of George.
In 2003, Arno Renner (Don’s uncle) wAs a Outcome of the proprietor of both properties and he took benefit of a farmland shieldion program supplyed by the State of Ohio. For a tax considperiodtion, both parcels of land have been accepted into was Acknowledged As a Outcome of the Agricultural Easement Donation Program (Ag Easement), which Based mostly on the Ohio Division of Agriculture’s internet website is “a system for landproprietors To shield their farm’s soils, pure useful resource options, and scenic open space. It provides landproprietors The prospect to donate the easement propers on by way ofble farmland to the Ohio Division of Agriculture (ODA). The department guarantees the land reprimarys in agricultural use eternally.”
As quickly as extra from the ODA internet website, an Ag Easement is described as “A method To cease (farm) land from turning into residentially or enterprisely developed. The easement will assist to guarantee the land Will not ever be Utilized in a method opposite to an agricultural intent.” (Italics added)
The validity of the Ag Easement settlement between George Renner’s progeny and State of Ohio acquired a look at proper out of the gate. In 2005, two yrs after the Ag Easement was granted, The metropolis of Marysville Desired to run a 72-inch sewer line by way of the property and threatened To make the most of The Greater of eminent area To take movement.
Mr. Renner pointed to the Ag Easement settlement and referred the recurrentatives from Marysville to the Ohio Division of Agriculture. The ODA studied the state of affairs. Fred Dailey, Director of the ODA In the meantime, truly acquired here to the Renner Farm to look the state of affairs over for himself. He went on To write down a letter to the mightor of Marysville saying, in no not sure time durations, that he, as director of the ODA, Wouldn’t stand idly by ought to Marysville proceed its efforts to override the Ag Easement settlement.
“If an agricultural easement is threatened or violated, It is my obligation To behave To shield it,” Director Dailey wrote On the time. “After reviewing All of the information provided to me, I want to informationrm you that ODA plans to oppose any Try and take an easement of this property by eminent area.”
Marysville found ancompletely different route for the sewer line.
Arno Renner died in 2007, however Only a yr later, An identical state of affairs developed. A particular personal contractor Desired to run a 36-inch water line by way of the property. Don Bailey, now a trustee for the Renner property, whipped out the Ag Easement settlement again and requested the ODA for assist.
This time, the ODA launched Inside The huge weapons by asking Ohio Lawyer Widespread Nancy Rogers To write down the letter stating the State of Ohio’s place on The matter. She agreed and was pretty clear in her assist of upholding the settlement.
“This time period permits the farmland proprietor to make utility enhancements and granting easements for such Provided thOn The event solely serves the shielded farmland and permitted construction thereon,” Lawyer Widespread Rogers wrote in refusing permission for enchancment of the water line. “On this event, the proposed water line Wouldn’t solely serve the Bailey property.”
After both the ODA and the AG weighed in, the particular personal contractor caved. No water line was put in on the Renner/Bailey properties.
Quick forward to 2020. Columbia Gasoline has deliberate what it calls its Northern Loop, An unrelaxationricted enterprise which intfinishs To place gas pipes Of numerous sizes All by way of the outlying spaces of Columbus, collectively with ‘spur’ or ‘connector’ strains Which might hook up with current gas strains, Similar to a Outcome of the one working east from Marysville alongside Industrial Parkmethod.
About 17 miles of the proposed Northern Loop gas line and its ‘connectors’ are deliberate to run by way of Delaware and Union Counties. And for A third time in 18 yrs, a authoritiesal or particular personal agency, in this case Columbia Gasoline, proposed a route for a enterprise enterprise which runs straight down The center of the Renner/Bailey property.
The route was Little question made extra engaging to Columbia Gasoline As a Outcome of of presence of Adelsberger Road, which bisects The two parcels. Adelsberger Road turned a lifeless finish/no outlet road yrs in the past when U.S. Route 33 was transformed into relaxationricted-entry highmethod between Marysville and Dublin. Adelsberger Rd. time periodinates in a area A few quarter-mile from the ODOT relaxation cease on eastbound U.S. 33.
Don Bailey, having not one however two precedents in hand To primarytain This Sort of financial enchancment off The two properties, but again pulled the Ag Easement settlement out and requested the ODA to intervene.
This time, to Mr. Bailey’s astonishment, the ODA said no. It Will not intervene Inside the case. The ODA appeared to Have not any disbenefit with the pipeline’s route by way of the Renner/Bailey property and refused to implement the Ag Easement settlement. Direct appeals To every layer of the ODA, from the youngsters who reply the telephones to Director Dorothy Pelanda herself, have been ignored or dismissed.
As Director of the ODA, Ms. Pelanda is one of seven voting members of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), the physique which has The final say on the matter the place gas strains, wind genperiodtors and photo voltaic farms and the like Might be Inconstructed Ohio. In the matter of the proposed pipeline ‘connector’ that runs immediately by way of the Renner/Bailey property, the OPSB – And by no means using a disdespatcheding vote – ignored the Ag Easement settlement. The gas line connector working by way of the Renner/Bailey property was given the inexperienced mild. The Ag Easement was null and void So far As a Outcome of the State of Ohio was involved.
Don Bailey has tfinished the property For many yrs and has it inspected yrly by the Union Soil and Water Conservation District, which reviews to the ODA on whether or not the Renners and Baileys are primarytaining their An factor of The low cost. They’ve acquired an A+ Yearly. After his household labored so exhausting to stay As a lot As a Outcome of their duties – Mr. Bailey said thOn the Ag Easement Wouldn’t permit Tons as a lean-to to be constructed subsequent to a small, pretty pond on the shielded land – he said he was “surprised” when he found thOn the ODA, certainly the State of Ohio, would revoke the contract with out a lot of An proof.
A mointernetary settlement supply made to the Baileys from Columbia Gasoline included a warning thOn The agency would use eminent area to obtaInside the land ought to the proposal be turned down by the Baileys. The supply was refused.
Quite than be crushed down by the deep pockets of Columbia Gasoline or the failure of the ODA To behave Inside their behalf, the Mr. Renner and the Baileys acquired out of the gate first and have taken both to courtroom. On July 12, they filed a petition in Union County Widespread Pleas Court asking for a writ of mandamus ordering Director Pelanda, in her performance As a Outcome of the director of the ODA, to intervene on Mr. Renner and the Baileys behalf by implementing the Ag Easement settlement with the State of Ohio. The Baileys additionally filed a petition asking for for an injunction To ban Columbia Gasoline from constructing on the property.
Lawyer David Watkins, Who’s recurrenting Mr. Renner and the Baileys, said that Director Pelanda has A clear battle of interelaxation in this case as she is married to Sam Gerexhaustingstein, who till May of this yr served as Director Governmental Affairs for Columbia Gasoline of Ohio, recurrenting The agency earlier than the Ohio Widespread Meeting and state authorities enterprisees. Mr. Gerexhaustingstein now sits on the board of the Ohio Water Development Authority. In accordance to his bio on the OWDA internet website, Earlier to his current place, he spent 20 yrs effectively lobbying “for the enactment of many primary gadgets of legal guidelines to assist the enterprise wants of Columbia Gasoline.”
Director Pelanda challenged the petition on its face, telling the courtroom that, per the settlement, solely Franklin Courts have jurisdiction in this matter, this amongst completely different objections.
Director Pelanda declined To answer any questions in particular person after she made A fast speech On the Union County Truthful earlier this yr, saying “I can’t Contact upon pfinishing litigation.” Calls and emails to Director Pelanda’s office since acquired comparable responses.
Recurrentatives from NiSource, the mother or father agency of Columbia Gasoline, declined to be interviewed for this story, however in a commerce of emails with the UCDD, NiSource said the “most properly-appreciated route” for the pipeline runs by way of the Renner/Bailey property and provided no completely different particulars Aside from NiSource’s dedication to Adjust to all state legal guidelines and legal guidelines.