Monday, August 13, 2007

Environmental Objectives from the 2007 Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan

At the August 6, 2007 Charlottesville City Council Meeting, the 2007 Comprehensive Plan was approved by a unanimous vote of city council. Councilor Norris made a special comment about this being the first environmental chapter ever in a Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan, and that it would guide the city's environmental efforts. This chapter is available as Chapter 8 in the plan.

Much to my surprise, Mayor Brown proposed during the 'New Business' item on the agenda the idea of Charlottesville banning sale of water in plastic water bottles - following the lead of other cities in the US. Given that many environmental objectives of significant importance to charlottesville residents are itemized in Chapter 8 of the comprehensive plan awaiting council consideration, I thought the mayor's suggestion of considering something totally outside the plan as a first environmental initiative totally misses the point of the comprehensive planning process.

After well over a year of plan development, I as a concerned citizen (and as a council candidate, too) believe the first order of council business relating to the environment should be to address the plan objectives. There are many key items to choose from including 10 objectives relating to Global Warming; 22 objectives relating to Water Quality, Stormwater, and Watershed; 10 objectives relating to our Urban Forest; and 17 objectives relating to Green Building issues.

It appeared that Mayor Brown was hoping for council to take some action on his plastic bottle ban suggestion during 'new business.' I was happy that other councilors suggested that the idea be transmitted to the city's sustainability committee for consideration. Matters brought up and voted on in the course of the new business agenda item allows absolutely no input from the public on that matter. This council has voted on actions proposed during new business in the past, but I hope that this will not continue in the future. I assure you that if you elect me to council, I will oppose any action on items brought up in new business until ample notice of a proposed action is made available to the staff and the pubic with sufficient time for staff review and for members of the public to provide input on that issue.

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