Crucial Charlotte City Council vote on stormwater controls – Oct 27

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To Sierra Club members and the Charlotte Environmental Community:

Are you satisfied that over 80% of the streams in Charlotte are unfit for human contact?

We certainly hope not. And we need you to take a few minutes to do something about it. On Monday night, 10/27/14, the Charlotte City Council will vote on a measure that stands to weaken the ordinance that protects our streams. It’s called the “Post-Construction Controls Ordinance” (PCCO), but it really should be called the “Charlotte Stream Protection Law.” It requires that builders use on-site controls to reduce the storm water runoff that pollutes our streams. The development community wants weaken this law by extending to developers a “get out of jail free card” called the fee-in-lieu.

If you really want to learn more about the details, you can read this article in Creative Loafing:

http://clclt.com/charlotte/developers-vs-the-environment/Content?oid=3534215

But here’s what you need to do immediately:

Send a letter, email or call the Mayor and as many City Council members as you can and tell them to oppose the extension of the temporary policy that allows developers to pay a fee to avoid on-site pollution controls. This fee is called a “fee-in-lieu,” meaning the developer makes a payment “in-lieu” of doing what is needed to control on-site pollution. While the payment will theoretically be used by the City storm water department to help clean-up our streams, that’s a backwards way of approaching the problem and will harm our streams. On-site pollution controls are needed.

Here are some talking points that you can use:

  • Please oppose the extension of the “fee-in-lieu” to the Post-Construction Controls Ordinance.
  • Over 80% of our streams are impaired and not fit for human contact.
  • This is Charlotte’s most important ordinance for water quality.
  • PCCO provides on-site regulations that are needed and cannot be replaced by less effective mitigation. On-site controls offer the best method of controlling pollution.
  • PCCO was a compromise. A group of stakeholders met over several years to develop the ordinance. We can’t compromise on the compromise.
  • It’s unrealistic to believe that development is being stopped by the PCCO.
  • We should actually strengthen PCCO by requiring on-site filters.
  • This is an example of paid staff from the development community trying to wear down citizens who have limited time to stay informed and involved in complicated issues. Citizens lose faith in the government and the process when this occurs.
  • We should rename PCCO to “Charlotte Stream Protection Law” so that citizens can recognize its importance.
  • This is an opportunity for the City Council to show environmental leadership and accountability.

Here’s the contact information for the Mayor and City Council:

Mayor

Daniel (Dan) Clodfelter

E-mail:  mayor@charlottenc.gov

Phone:  704-336-2241

Mayor Pro Tem

Michael Barnes

Email: barnesforcharlotte@gmail.com Phone: 704-509-6141

Council At-Large:

David Howard

Email: info@davidhowardclt.com Phone: 704-336-4099

Claire Green Fallon

Email: cfallon@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-6105

Vi Lyles

Email: vlyles@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-3431

District Representatives:

Patsy Kinsey, District 1

Email: pkinsey@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-3432 or 704-376-5367

Al Austin, District 2

Email: aaustin@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-3185

LaWana Mayfield, District 3

Email:     lmayfield@charlottenc.gov Phone:   704-336-3435 (office) or 704-352-7305 (cell)

Greg Phipps, District 4

Email: gaphipps@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-3436

John Autry, District 5

Email: jautry@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-2777

Kenny Smith, District 6

Email: krsmith@charlottenc.gov Phone: 704-336-3433

Ed Driggs, District 7

Email:ed@eddriggs.com Phone: 704-432-7077

This is critically important. If we lose this battle, we’ll lose the opportunity to clean-up our polluted streams. And one more thing. We need to know that you’ve taken action. Please copy David Robinson, Charlotte Sierra Club Group Chair, on your emails or let him know that you’ve made calls or sent letters. David’s email address is: takahula@gmail.com .

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.

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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 heidi.pruess@mecklenburgcountync.org.

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

 

Charlotte Joins the Global Frackdown

Thanks to the great folks that spoke about the dangers of fracking Saturday at the Piedmont Natural Gas headquarters! Check out some photos from the Charlotte Global Frackdown event.

At the end of the event we shared information about some important upcoming environmental and social justice events. Click below to download a copy of the handout.

Couldn’t make the event but still want to take action? Great! Please take action to keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground and Show Solidarity on Global Frackdown Day!

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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!

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Mary Lou Buck Award

 

How Green Spaces Are Saving Humanity

Great article from  Sierra Magazine!

Need to get your green on and recharge your humanity? Check out our Mecklenburg Park & Rec Nature Preserves. You’ll be glad you did!

How Green Spaces Are Saving Humanity

It’s like The Giving Tree, but in real life.
Park bench on a summer day

Thanks, Mother Nature.

Parks and green spaces are little oases nestled in a city’s fabric, offering respite from stressful bustle and ideal spots to picnic or walk. But urban green spaces—parks, gardens, or simply the trees that line sidewalks—also afford a host of less visible health benefits. Even living around leafy areas can provide perks you don’t even realize you’re getting, from lower blood pressure to lower crime rates.

1. Green spaces make you less stressed.

Anyone who’s ever sat in a park after a harrowing day of work knows that trees just have a way of making you feel better. Scientists have backed up this phenomenon, with studies that found lower blood pressure and heart rates, as well as lower levels of cortisol, a marker of stress found in saliva, among people who spend time in green spaces.

Trees are there for you during the harder times, too. Dutch researchers surveyed over 4,500 people going through stressful life events, including the death of a loved one, serious illness, or financial hardship. The ones who lived within 3 kilometers of green space reported higher levels of well-being and fewer health complaints in the face of their struggles than those who didn’t. And several studies have shown that people who live near green spaces are much less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

2. You’re less likely to die from stress or pollution-related problems.

These positive effects can go a long way. A study of 575,000 urban residents of Ontario, Canada showed that who lived near trees had lower rates of mortality, and were especially less likely to die of respiratory disease. This makes sense: Trees are air-filtering workhorses, taking in pollution and pumping out that sweet, sweet oxygen.

Another vivid study in 2013 used a natural experiment to confirm this trend. Scientists tracked the emerald ash borer, an invasive green beetle, as it demolished tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan and the northeast U.S. Over a period of five years, they found that in the areas the beetle hit hardest, about 21,000 more people had died from lower respiratory tract illness and heart disease than those who lived where ash trees survived.

3. Spending time in nature makes you a better employee.

Hanging out with trees during your lunch break can give your brain a rest by replenishing attention, say researchers at the University of Michigan. Unlike urban environments that require focused attention (say, dodging a speeding car), natural environments are filled with “intriguing stimuli” that modestly grab your attention—a funky-looking insect, the wind rustling through leaves—letting your higher concentration faculties rest. When you get back to work, you’ll be refreshed and more prepared to make savvy, career-advancing decisions.

4. Trees make inner-city neighborhoods safer.

Trees can even fight crime, according to a study by the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Researchers analyzed police crime reports from a Chicago public housing development to discover that buildings with greener surroundings had fewer reports of crime, both property and violent.

The idea that trees can act like leafy Batmen is cool enough, but how does it happen? In a later study, the same researchers found crimes in low-income areas often occurred because people were constantly mentally fatigued or stressed. Since the mere sight of trees is restorative, as we know, being surrounded by vegetation helped people recover from their stress, check their aggression, and keep the peace.

To top it all off, research has shown that these psychological benefits are even more pronounced when a park contains more biodiversity. Researchers from the University of Sheffield, England quizzed park-goers about their psychological well-being and how many bird, butterfly, and plant species they thought lived in the parks they frequented. The parks’ species richness, the scientists found, correlated with the people’s well-being. Moreover, the visitors themselves were able to tell on some subconscious level which parks were more diverse. That knowledge, it seems, did them good.

Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers

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

Runoff from stormwater is a major contributor to water pollution. Watch this short video- “Storm Water Pollution: The Unknown Assailant” to learn about the issues involved (thanks to the Catawba Riverkeeper for posting this on their website).

Check back for more information on this issue this week.

See you on Sept 22 at the City Council Meeting!

Partner for Parks – 6th Annual Awards Event

This is a great event for a great cause -supporting our Mecklenburg Parks! Make plans to attend or make a donation.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

Partners for Parks is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. In Mecklenburg County, we partner with the Park & Recreation Department which preserves and maintains over 200+ parks and facilities covering almost 20,000 acres of parkland. Partners for Parks strives to sustain the legacy of recreation by providing a safe place to raise funds – offering grant assistance to area organizations. We also facilitate community outreach and education to bolster the trails, the parks, the playgrounds, the recreation centers and the natural areas saved and created. Our goal is Breathing Life Into Our Community and ultimately enhance the gifts of beauty and quality of life for the people in our region.

Partners for Parks 2014

CLICK HERE TO RSVP