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
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.
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.