On July 27, strong storms knocked out power to hundreds of Grove City residents, adding fuel to the cause of two crusading council members.
Councilman Ted Berry and Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw plan to introduce legislation to make burying power lines, in new developments or areas under construction where power lines would have to be relocated, a priority.
The legislation focuses not only on the aesthetics of power lines but also on safety. It notes that installing utility lines on poles creates a safety hazard, jeopardizing the health and lives of motorists involved with collisions with utility poles.
Berry explained, in a press release, that the legislation primarily aims to keep local residents out of danger when the lights go out. Utility lines can be damaged as a result of accidents, ice storms, lightning strikes, wind storms, or other events. This may cause residents to be without communication or electricity for an extended period of time.
Many residents in the Pinnacle development were without power for more than eight hours, due to downed power lines caused by straight-line winds. Those damaged lines were mainly on White Road.
"In talking to the residents of the down power lines this past week it is evident that safety was their primary concern," Klemack-McGraw noted. "Several senior citizens were without power as well as families with young children – this means no phone service, air conditioning, cooking, refrigeration – the list goes on and on."
The proposed legislation would require the city administrator to provide design and cost estimates for burying the lines for any development or redevelopment of roadway, street, public facility and other public capital improvement projects. This would only apply to proposals approved after the passage of the resolution. The legislation also gives council leeway to consider alternatives to burying the lines.
The cost to install power lines underground varies depending on the length of the roadway and the voltage involved.
"The burying of utility lines on new and major reconstruction projects will cost additional dollars and it is expensive," said Berry. "However, the safety and aesthetic benefits to our community well out weigh the cost."
Grove City currently requires that all developers bury power lines but does not require the same of city improvements.
"As I look down Hoover, White, Broadway, Stringtown, Orders and the soon-to-be steel towers on the new 665, it makes me sick," Berry stated. "The residents and businesses of this city deserve better. Together we can solve this issue."
The cost to bury the utility lines on State Route 665 was estimated at $1 million to $2 million and it would have delayed the project for a year. If council had gone forward with underground lines in the 665 construction project, they would have lost $1.3 million in Ohio Public Works Commission funding.
The proposed resolution to adopt an underground utilities policy is not a mandate. It would be considered by council for each new project.
Berry and Klemack-McGraw would like additional input from residents on the issue. You can send your comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The council members plan to submit a draft resolution at the Aug. 6 council meeting.