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Barrett looking for common ground

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Matt Barrett (D-Amherst) said he is trying to find common ground between Ohio Department of Transportation and local governments, but ODOT canceled twice recently for meetings set up with Gov. Ted Strickland's office.

"We're getting the governor's office all the records and newspaper reports we have on different issues and then the governor's office will be meeting with an ODOT representative," Barrett said.

Brian Stacey, spokesman for the Ashland ODOT office, said he had never been told about a meeting between Barrett, ODOT and the governor's staff.

Karundi Williams, ODOT legislative coordinator in Columbus, said she has spoken with Barrett over different issues in his district, but didn't know about any meetings scheduled with the governor's staff and Barrett.

"I've met with him in the past," she said, most recently in November over the Lyme Township issue.

Barrett said he is concerned because ODOT often seems to be inflexible when dealing with local governments.

"Somebody at ODOT, and it seems to be different people every time, makes a decision and that's it. There's no appeals process. It's take it or leave it," he said.

Barrett wanted to sit down with ODOT and the governor's staff to discuss four projects in the area; funding for repair of U.S. 250 in Milan, a dispute between Huron County commissioners and ODOT on the value of land near the Huron County airport the state needs, the value of a homeowners property near New London that the state is also taking through eminent domain and an easement allowing Northern Ohio Rural Water to put lines next to U.S. 20 in Lyme Township near Bellevue.

He said individuals in Wellington and Seneca County in his district also have conflicts with ODOT.

Barrett still talked to the governor's staff about the issues, but said it would have been nice if ODOT had been there too.

"We explained the different issues we've been having," he said. "People hit a brick wall" when they try to add information or question ODOT decisions.

Barrett said a meeting has been tentatively set up for Wednesday at the Lyme Township building on Young Road between trustees, NORW and Bellevue officials. Rep. Jeff Wagner (R-Sycamore) and local landowners will attend the meeting and ODOT has been invited.

Lyme Township has already granted water rights in the township to NORW, but three landowners contiguous to Bellevue has applied for annexation to the city. NORW must get an easement from ODOT to put lines next to U.S. 20 by those homes to reach other township homes.

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