Residents in the City of Warren voted soundly Tuesday against an amendment to the city's Home Rule Charter regarding the treatment of Marcellus Shale frackwater.
The referendum vote 795 Yes and 1,316 No ends the West Side Alliance' bid to ban the treatment of frackwater and natural gas extraction within the city and prohibit the storage, deposit or transport of produced water, frackwater or brine within Warren, at least through an amendment to the city's charter.
Barb Lucia of the West Side Alliance had fought to secure the referendum on the ballot since 2010, and said even with a defeat, the placement of the referendum on Tuesday's ballot was a victory in itself.
"This process has fulfilled its purpose and demonstrated that people have a seat at the table where they have a say," Lucia said Tuesday night.
Lucia said she was expecting a closer race, but was happy to see 38 percent approval for the home rule amendment. She said after all votes are tallied and become official, she expects to see 40 percent approval, a number she said is significant.
"This is the first referendum on the charter rule since it was created," she said. "This shows that people have a say at the table and can make a difference. It shows a lot that we have the power to challenge it."
Jim Nelles, Warren city manager, said the referendum's defeat will save the city and taxpayers money from defending the amendment in court. He said with nearly 62 percent voting against the referendum, it shows city residents were educated on the subject before heading to the polls.
"Well that's certainly good news," Nelles said by phone Tuesday night. "This will save the taxpayers...and it's good to see that people looked at this realistically. It really renews your faith in the voters."
"We're excited that it's defeated," he added. "It will save us a lot of legal expenses and trips to the court. I want to say thanks to all those that helped with this (referendum) that was basically unconstitutional."
Lucia said the West Side Alliance will continue its push for a safer city, and said the defeat will not hinder their efforts as an organization.
"We're gonna keep going," she said. "This isn't going to slow us down. Who says in the spring we don't try again. All we need is a petition, and we're good at getting signatures."