Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan

Heidi Pruess, Mecklenburg Community Plan and Sustainability officer, lead a very informative review and discussion at our September monthly meeting. Below is a description about the plan as well as copies of the draft Strategy Matrix and the draft Actions and Successes. If you would like to provide feedback on the plan or schedule a listening session for your neighborhood organization, house of worship, or other group, please contact Heidi.


Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan

The Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan is a joint initiative between Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, surrounding towns, the Foundation For The Carolinas and our community partners to develop a unified vision that incorporates community-wide goals centered on how we live, work and play today and in the future. This collaborative effort provides an opportunity to review existing plans and identify commonalities that encourage and support a vibrant and healthy quality of life in our community.

The Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan is offering to come to your organization for a “listening session” this month to ask such questions as, “Are we on the right track? Will the priority strategies and actions we developed help us reach our vision?”

For more information on the Mecklenburg Liveable Communities Plan, click here.

If your neighborhood organization, house of worship, or other group is interested in scheduling a listening session, please contact Heidi Pruess, Community Plan and Sustainability officer, at

Click below to download and review the draft Strategy Matrix and the draft Actions and Successes.

Meck Livabality Plan Draft StrategiesMecklenburg Livable Communities Draft Strategies


Meck Livabality Plan Draft Actions and SuccessMecklenburg Livable Communities Draft Actions and Successes


Sierra Club NC Chapter Volunteer Recognition Award – Congratulations Mary Lou Buck!

At the September 28th Sierra Club NC Chapter Executive Committee meeting, our tireless Central Piedmont member Mary Lou Buck was awarded a North Carolina Chapter Volunteer Recognition Award for here work on the Solarize Charlotte program. If you know Mary Lou, you know that she has contributed to the Club in many, many more ways. We’re so lucky to have volunteer leaders like Mary Lou. Please join me in congratulating Mary Lou!


Mary Lou Buck Award


So Much Happening! 4QT Mecklenburg Environmental/Social Justice Events

Here are some of our Sierra Club and community events that are related to environmental and social justice issues. I hope to see you at many of these!

Be the Change

People’s Climate March

See, listen and learn about the March and what you can do to grow the movement!

Memories and Images of the Peoples Climate March


The New Climate Movement Has Begun – Be a Part of the Change!

“The alarm bells keep ringing, our citizens keep marching. We must answer the call”

 Oct 6 – MSNBC “All In: Coal Country” with NC Coal Ash and Duke Energy

Monday, October 6th at 8:00 PM, Chris Hayes on MSNBC will be doing an hour-long investigative special on the coal industry

Oct 6 – MSNBC “All In: Coal Country” with NC Coal Ash and Duke Energy

 Oct 7 – 2nd of 3 NC Senate Debates with Kay Hagan vs. Thom Tillis, ‘Round 2’

Host a house party to watch and discuss. Or, Drinking Liberally Charlotte is hosting a viewing party at Kennedy’s Premium Bar & Grill – 366 N. Caswell ( Folks will be upstairs starting at 6:30pm and stick around afterwards as long as you’d like to discuss how the candidates performed. The Debate starts at 7pm and lasts just 1 hour. This one is hosted by George Stephanopoulos!

 Oct 9 – Charlotte Bike Talk!

Charlotte Bike Talk! – Oct 9

 Oct 10 – Voter Registration Deadline

More information at

Oct 10 – Carolina Thread “Fall Into the Thread”

One Week To Fall Into The Thread on October 10th!

 Oct 14 Webinar: Advocating with Compassion & NC General Assembly 101

Oct 14 Webinar: Advocating with Compassion & NC General Assembly 101

 Oct 16 – Charlotte Moral Movies – Disruption

Oct 16 More Moral Movies – Watch and Discuss “Disruption”

 Oct 18 – Rocky Face Mountain Outing

Oct 18 Outing: Exploring Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area

Oct 20 – Citizens’ United and Corporate Personhood

Oct 20 Program: Citizens’ United and Corporate Personhood

Oct 22 – Sierra Club monthly meeting

Oct 22 Sierra Club Monthly Meeting – Members Trip Highlights

Oct 22 – “Coal Ash In Our Water: An Unfinished Business” Town Hall Meeting

Oct 23 – Early Voting Begins

More information at

Oct 26 – Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Sierra Club: Relive the Legacy of the Appalachian Trail

Oct 26 – Relive the Legacy of the Appalachian Trail

Oct 27 – Charlotte City Council vote on the future of area water quality (PCCO)

For more information on this issue see:

Public Hearing Comments on the Proposed Weakened Stormwater Ordinance

Come Tell Charlotte City Council to Protect Our Streams, Lakes, and Rivers

81% of Total Mecklenburg Watershed Considered Unfit – Support Strong Stormwater Regulations!

Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers

Sept 22: Charlotte Public Hearing – The Future of Area Water Quality

Will Developers Take Control of Our Water Quality?

Will Charlotte Continue to Weaken Storm Water Controls?

Nov 1 – Early Voting Ends

More information at

Nov 1 – Catawba Wildflower Glen Service Outing

More information at:

Nov 4 – General Election Day

More information at

Nov 21 – NC Climate Justice Summit

More information at NC Climate Justice Summit, Nov 21-23

Oct 16 More Moral Movies – Watch and Discuss “Disruption”

This is a powerful film that I highly recommend that you see! Join Action NC, Move to Amend, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club for a moving and inspiring evening!

Disruption Poster

Thursday, October 16


Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
234 N Sharon Amity Rd
Charlotte, North Carolina 28211


‘When it comes to climate change, why do we do so little when we know so much?’

Through a relentless investigation to find the answer, Disruption takes an unflinching look at the devastating consequences of our inaction.

The exploration lays bare the terrifying science, the shattered political process, the unrelenting industry special interests and the civic stasis that have brought us to this social, moral and ecological crossroads.The film also takes us behind-the-scenes of the efforts to organize the largest climate rally in the history of the planet during the UN world climate summit.

This is the story of our unique moment in history. We are living through an age of tipping points and rapid social and planetary change. We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate disruption, and the last generation that can do something about it. The film enlarges the issue beyond climate impacts and makes a compelling call for bold action that is strong enough to tip the balance to build a clean energy future.

Public Hearing Comments on the Proposed Weakened Stormwater Ordinance

Read two of the comments made at the September 22nd Public Hearing on the proposed weakening of our stormwater regulations. And while you’re at it, mark for calendar for October 27th for the City Council vote on this ordinance. We’ll need your voice, signs, and emails and calls to the Charlotte City Council!

Public Comments of Bill Gupton on the PCCO Revisions

Char Global Enviro Leader

Mayor Clodfelter, members of City Council, City Staff and others,

My name is Bill Gupton and I currently serve as Conservation Chair on the Charlotte based Sierra Club Central Piedmont group.

I apologize for not appearing tonight before you tonight for this public hearing as planned. This past weekend, in 34 hours, I was part of 3 buses full of 165 concerned Charlotte area citizens that traveled 1,300 miles as we joined 7 other North Carolina buses and over 400,000 people in New York City in the largest March in world history to call for action to address the Climate Crisis and Environmental Injustice. I’m exhausted, aching, I have no voice, yet I’m committed more than ever that we must address issues at the local, state and national level.

I’m a Charlotte native who grew up in the Oakdale Community on the west side of the County in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It was rural. My friends and I romped through the woods, camped out, and explored the woods, streams, and hills. We spent much of our time at “The Creek”, a stream where we waded and played. Some days we couldn’t get in the water because it was covered in red or blue foam. On other days it was covered with an oily sheen. We didn’t know why.

Today, while some areas of our surface water are better, we are at a critical junction. 81% of our streams in Mecklenburg County are officially labeled as “Impaired”. Almost every stream in our area suffers from pollution to some degree. The good news is that where we have decided to act, we have made a big difference such as in the Little Sugar Creek.
On August 10, 2014, City staff made a presentation to the City Environmental Committee that stated “CHARLOTTE will become A GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER” and “Charlotte will lead BY EXAMPLE” (see above). If you believe that this is true and accurate, you must reject the proposed revision to the Post Construction Control Ordinance (PCCO) as it would weaken stormwater control across our City and continue to degrade our area streams, lakes and rivers.

As scheduled now, on October 27th you will vote on this ordinance. I personally consider this one of the most important environmental votes of record by this City Council. By rejecting this change you will be telling developers that the cost of onsite mitigation of stormwater pollution is not an “incremental cost” but a “cost of doing business” in today’s world to protect our environment and the surrounding residents. By rejecting this ordinance you will send a message to Charlotte residents that you support environmental justice where we do not allow pollution controls to be weakened in areas of re-development that would allow the surrounding neighborhood streams to suffer. By rejecting this ordinance you will be telling Charlotte voters that you will not allow cost shifting of stormwater control and cleanup costs from developers onto the taxpayers. By rejecting this weakening of our stormwater controls you will be demonstrating real environmental leadership.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. This was an act designed to assure that every resident deserves clean streams flowing through their neighborhood. We’ve come a long way but we have much more to do. I strongly urge you on October 27th to reject the proposed weakening of stormwater controls for the future of our City and the quality of life and health of our community. Should you vote to approve this ordinance, I would request that you ask City Staff never to use the phrases “CHARLOTTE will become A GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER” and “Charlotte will lead BY EXAMPLE” because it just won’t be true.

Thank you.


Public Comments from Sustain Charlotte

Good Evening Mayor Clodfelter and Members of Council,

My name is Shannon Binns and I am the founder and Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte, a local nonprofit whose mission is to inspire choices that lead to a healthier and more vibrant community for generations to come.

I have just one question for you tonight:  Do you want Charlotte to be a leader when it comes to protecting our environment and growing our city in a sustainable way?  Right now our city sustainability staff in neighborhood and business services are putting together a plan, and the overarching guiding principle is for “Charlotte to be a global environmental leader.”

However, what you will be asked to support one month from now is a policy that is nowhere near leadership.

Leaders when it comes to managing stormwater runoff are requiring a range of on-site mitigation options to capture heavy metals, oil, trash, and other forms of pollution before it enters local waterways. As we learned from city stormwater staff at the last environment committee meeting, the city of LA already has installed 10,000 pollution filters, for example. Seattle’s county, King County, is requiring these filters as well, they mentioned.  These cities are two of the leaders because they require best practices as part of their ordinances.

In 2011 our local real estate industry asked for relief from our ordinance citing the downturn in our economy. So a three-year temporary option to bypass our onsite mitigation requirement by paying a fee was granted. That three-year period expired in April but this council agreed to extend it for six months so that the environment committee and staff could explore our options. During this time, my organization and three other local nonprofits who have professional expertise on environmental science and policy issues asked staff and members of the committee to require at least some best practices rather than simply extending the option to pay a fee instead of manage stormwater on site.

Unfortunately, none of our recommendations were included.

We want our city to be a leader. We want our children to be able to safely play in their backyard streams and creeks again. We want our city to thrive for generations. But if that is going to happen we must move beyond the rhetoric and we must begin taking the actions that leading cities take.  So we urge you to vote against allowing developers anywhere in our city to simply pay a fee instead of complying with one of our most important local laws. After all, doing business in this community comes with responsibilities to this community. And I hope you will hold those who wish to profit in our city accountable to these basic responsibilities.

This is not a zero-sum game. We can have economic development AND we can protect our natural resources. This is called sustainable development, and we urge you to be a champion for sustainable development, not a champion for short-term economic development that sacrifices our quality of life.
Thanks for your service to our community and if we can provide additional expertise on this issue, please let us know.

10 Buses, Hundreds of North and South Carolinians Attend Historic People’s Climate March

Thanks to Becky Bereiter and the TWC news team for seeing us off to New York City and the People’s Climate March as we joined 400,000 folks calling for Climate Action and Climate Justice!! Check back on our website for more national AND rider coverage!

PCM TWC News14 Coverage

Hundreds of North Carolinians Headed to NYC for People’s Climate March

CHARLOTTE — Hundreds of North Carolinians left for New York City Saturday night to take part in what is being called the largest march in history addressing climate change.

More than 100,000 people from around the country are expected at Sunday’s People’s Climate March.

The event comes ahead of next week’s United Nations Climate Summit. World leaders will gather to focus on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen climate resilience.

“I think people are starting to see the severe storms, the flooding, the excess heat, and it’s starting to impact people’s pocketbooks,” said Bill Gupton of the North Carolina Sierra Club. “We have the have the same kind of movement we had with the civil rights movement and the labor movement.”

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the summit. He is expected to urge his fellow heads of state to be as ambitious as possible as they negotiate a complicated, global treaty to reduce emissions. The treaty is set to be finalized in 2015.

Demonstrators hope Sunday’s March will help apply public pressure.

“They’re going to see it in the streets and they’re going to realize that this is not just an academic issue,” said Alan Harwick of Greensboro. “This is something that’s affecting real people now, and I think the march will show that.”

Other demonstrations are planned around the world in Delhi, Jakarta, and Rio de Janeiro. The UN Climate Summit is Tuesday.

Come Tell Charlotte City Council to Protect Our Streams, Lakes, and Rivers

On Monday, September 22, Charlotte City Council has announced a Public Hearing that will, for the most part, determine the future water quality of our area lakes, streams and rivers.

Will you speak out at the Public Hearing on Sept 22nd?

How To Sign Up to Speak at a Council Meeting

Call the City Clerk’s Office at 704-336-2248 and request to speak by giving your name, full address, daytime telephone, and subject. This information is placed on a Speaker’s List for the Mayor to follow during the meeting. During the Council meeting, as your name is called, approach the speaker’s stand and begin. The City Clerk’s timer will ring when your time is up.  See Official Rules below.

Visit the City Clerk’s Office
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 7th Floor
600 East Fourth St.
Charlotte, NC 28202

Web On line Speaker Sign-Up Form

Fax your name, address, daytime phone number and subject to 704-336-7588

City Council meetings are regularly scheduled for Mondays and are held in the Meeting Chamber at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth Street. Free parking is available at the Government Center Parking Deck (3rd and Davidson) during City Council meetings.

Arrive by 6:15 PM. Council meeting starts at 6:25 PM.

Re-post from Sustain Charlotte Sept 18, 2014 e-Newsletter

On September 10, the City Council Environment Committee again chose not to recommend low-cost storm drain filters in parking lots on redevelopment sites, despite a compelling presentation from city stormwater staff on their effectiveness in reducing water pollution and their use in other major cities. The filters would reduce the amount of trash, oil, and grease entering our streams. However, they would not trap many of the chemical pollutants in stormwater runoff, nor would they prevent the large pulses of runoff that cause stream erosion.

This means that on October 27, the full City Council will vote on whether or not to extend (for five more years) the option for developers to pay the city a fee rather than comply with our local law that requires on-site control of stormwater runoff to prevent it from polluting and eroding our streams.

We encourage you to attend the public hearing on this policy this coming Monday, September 22, during City Council’s regular 6pm meeting to show public concern over this major threat to our waterways. As stated in Mecklenburg County’s 2012 State of the Environment report, “the discharge of untreated, undetained runoff from impervious surfaces has the greatest negative impact to surface water quality.”  Sustain Charlotte staff will speak at the hearing and we will ask the Council to vote against the five year extension of the payment in lieu of on-site mitigation given its negative impact on the health of our streams. We are seeking local residents to speak in defense of our streams as well.  If you would like to speak at the hearing, please let us know by replying to this email and we will provide you all of the information you need.

To learn more, read Ana McKenzie’s article in this week’s Creative Loafing.

For more information on this issue, see Sept 22: Charlotte Public Hearing – The Future of Area Water Quality, Will Developers Take Control of Our Water Quality?, 81% of Total Mecklenburg Watershed Considered Unfit – Support Strong Stormwater Regulations!, Will Charlotte Continue to Weaken Storm Water Controls? and Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers