At their Monday night meeting, Athens City Council discussed Ohio House Bill 393, which would authorize the sale of brine from fracking operations as a commodity used to control deicing, dust suppression and other applications on roadways.
The Ohio Department of Transportation does not use brine from oil or gas drilling processes on highways.
Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, addressed the bill by introducing a citywide ordinance that would prohibit the use of industrial waste or commodities thereof industrial waste for surface application in Athens.
“I would like to believe there are smart minds out there, I understand someone at Ohio University is working on ways to detoxify and deradiate this solution,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said.
Members also discussed Ohio House Bill 312, which requires political subdivisions to have a written policy regarding credit card usage. Athens does not currently have a policy regarding credit card usage.
Additionally, council members discussed updates to the domestic registry requirements. Those updates are designed to strengthen the language and further align it with other communities.
Those changes require the two individuals involved in the domestic partnership to live in a shared residence for 6 months with the intention to do so indefinitely and both be listed on the lease.
“Domestic partnership is what we did years ago to get around the state being so difficult about same-sex marriage,” Fahl said.
City council wants to continue offering a domestic partnership registry, even though same-sex marriage has been legalized.
“To rescind this right now, I believe, is the wrong thing to do,” Patterson said, “We’re just cleaning up the language and keeping it safe.”
Members also discussed the salary of the newly hired Clerk of Court. Municipal Court Judge Todd Grace asked council to set the salary at $65,000 a year. The previous salary was about $75,000 a year.
City council also held a public hearing about the Madison Heights rezoning of property located on the corner of East State Street and Madison Ave. That lot is a minor subdivision and 1.188 acres split into 5 parcels.
Members also discussed a franchise agreement with American Electric Power for use of the city right-of-way and tree trimming. That is the same ordinance from 2012.
Council members also discussed the 2018 city budget, which is still a work in progress. However, according to Patterson, they are getting closer to finishing it.
Editor's note: This report has been updated to reflect a previous version of the article and clarify which type of brine ODOT does not use. A correction that included inaccurate information about ODOT's use of brine from oil or gas drilling processes has been removed from the article.