Athens City Council Passes Wellhead Protection Plan Ordinance

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Environmental concerns dominated the Athens City Council meeting Monday night.

One resolution passed requests the Wayne National Forest to conduct an environmental impact statement prior to the release of any lands located within the forest for gas drilling.
Councilwoman Christine Fahl (D-4th Ward) says the discussion must be open to the public for comment and review because right now, she says the conversation is taking place behind closed doors.
"Because the impacts are so great, especially for water and air quality, for all of the citizens of the county. There's 70,000 people that rely on the Hocking, also it's essential that they go through this as openly and a complete process as possible," said Fahl.
The council also passed an ordinance to update the Wellhead Protection Plan which aims to protect essential resources like the water supply.
Fahl says the update will address things like the effects of underground drilling on the water.  It will also serve as a way to analyze the recreational waters for pesticides.
Another issue brought up was the establishment of an environment and sustainability commission.
Fahl says the commission would be a good way to use the city's personnel resources and spread the workload around to more people.
They would discuss issues of pesticide use, sustainability education, planting trees and developing environmental policies.
In other council business,  aresolution that allows the city to conduct an amnesty program to get uncollected revenues that are owed to the city was also accepted.
Councilmember Christine Knisely (D-At Large) says they are contracting with a Cleveland company because they have security access to the database records for people's federal income tax returns.
Otherwise, the city would perform the service on their own.
This plan is set to begin on June 1.