Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Council votes for Eco-Municipality

More than twenty people turned out at Tuesday night's La Crosse City Council Committee of the Whole meeting to register and voice support for the Eco-Municipality legislation (click "Read More" for the wording) introduced by Council members Jai Johnson and Dorothy Lenard. Several speakers encouraged the council to support the legislation, citing financial and ecological benefits and its potential to benefit future generations.

The legislation was introduced as the City's Planning Department was preparing its own sustainability plan. A representative of the Planning Department answered questions about the plan and funding, endorsing the legislation as a way to tie together the city's, and area's, sustainability planning. The city has set aside $15,000 of Community Block Grant funds each year in 2006 and 2007 to pay for such planning.

Council members, James Bloedorn, who represents District 7, and Tom Sweeney, District 14, recommended a 30 day referral. Bloedorn said he was concerned about the amount of money to be spent and said that this is really a state, federal or international issue. Sweeney said that he thought scare tactics were being used. Apparently, the idea of investing in our future is too deep a concept for these two. Thankfully, the referral was defeated and the legislation passed.

Normally, we warn you not to let up. After all, Tuesday's Committee of the Whole is really only a "practice" council meeting, allowing for public comments. The real vote happens Thursday at the official City Council meeting.

In this case, it appears that the legislation has broad support from members who realize that planning money already set aside will be a great investment in our future and help lead the way for other communities and the state on this issue.

But, if you can, please attend Thursday night's meeting at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. There are no public comments allowed but it will be good to show support for the legislation. And, if your council representative is Todd Sweeney, District 14 or James Bloedorn, District 7, please contact him before Thursday evening and tell him you support this legislation and he should, too. Stress its importance as an investment, point out that La Crosse will lead the way and influence the state and region, remind him that it's an investment in La Crosse's business future as well.

See you Thursday!

Here's the legislation:

WHEREAS, on December 19, 2002 the Common Council of the City of La Crosse adopted Confluence: The La Crosse Comprehensive Plan and a goal of said plan is safeguarding and improving environmental features as a means of promoting neighborhood revitalization, community image and quality of life that enhances, restores and protects natural resources such as the rivers, wetlands, bluffs and wooded hillsides, among others; and

WHEREAS, The Natural Step model for Eco-Municipalities for sustainable community development has been well shown to fit this goal by the experiences of several cities in the United States including Ashland, Washburn and Madison, Wisconsin and over 75 cities worldwide; and

WHEREAS, the willingness of the City to become an Eco-Municipality through The Natural Step program can serve as a model for others and thereby encourage sustainable practices in the City and throughout the region; and

WHEREAS, the following four guidelines were developed by the American Planning Association to help communities implement sustainable practices:

1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, and extracted underground metals and minerals.
2. Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in Nature.
3. Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems.
4. Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently; and

WHEREAS, it is important to the goals within Confluence that the City endorse the principles of sustainable community development and prepare a sustainable community plan following the guidelines of The Natural Step Model for Eco-Municipalities.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Common Council of the City of La Crosse hereby endorses the principles of sustainable community development as described through The Natural Step model for Eco-Municipalities stated above, and agrees to apply these principles whenever possible in its planning, policy making, and municipal practices.

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Common Council of the City of La Crosse hereby authorizes the Planning Department to prepare and circulate a Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek a qualified person(s)/firm(s) who will assist the Mayor, All City Departments, City staff and others, in preparing said sustainable community plan.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mayor shall appoint a consultant selection committee and said selection committee shall provide a recommendation to the Common Council for selection of said person/firm and contract for services.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the cost for said planning services shall not exceed $25,000 for the planning consultant(s) and $5,000 for City staff, printing, mailing and meeting costs, with the source of funds being 2006 & 2007 Community Development Block Grant, sustainable plan funds.

Labels: La Crosse, progressive legislation, sustainability, Wisconsin supreme court

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