PLAN, FROM PAGE A1 | New

a variety of climate-related goals that provide the basis for eventual policies to be adopted by the council. Key to this process will be the formation of an Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) made up of volunteers and similar in nature to existing authorities, boards and committees that oversee city-related responsibilities, such as the Zoning Hearing Board, the Planning and Zoning Commission. , or the Beautification Committee.

The committee would consist of three to seven members appointed by the board. The EAC would recommend policies to the board, but would not have the power to adopt policies on its own. The Council continued its discussion on the EAC after the adoption of the climate plan and is expected to come back to it at its next meeting on 6 July.

Councilman Jim Roha opposed the plan and once again argued that the city should avoid taking actions that could create economic disincentives to attracting businesses. Higher property taxes, cable TV fees and stormwater fees all contribute to making the city less attractive to investors than neighboring municipalities, and passing the climate action plan would add to the problem, Roha said. Instead, he continued, climate-related actions taken by the city should either be part of a regional initiative or be small-scale measures to address particular issues, such as replacing the ‘LED lighting.

Explaining his reversal, McKnight said he initially shared Roha’s skepticism, particularly regarding the plan’s economic impact, but was confident the potential benefits offered by the plan outweighed these concerns. He also said he would ensure residents were not taxed further as a result of the plan.

“To be honest, there are some things about this plan that I don’t agree with, and I don’t think we need to deal with them now,” McKnight said. “We must continue to separate and work together. Let’s see what will work for Meadville instead of saying no, I’m against the energy program.

The council meeting, which was moved to Old Town Hall in anticipation of increased public participation, drew an audience of approximately 35 people. Fifteen members of the audience addressed the council about the climate action plan, with 10 opposing it and five supporting it.

The Board also acknowledged receipt of correspondence regarding the 28-person plan. As was the case last month, when the council received more than 60 emails and letters, the authors were overwhelmingly in favor of the plan, with only a handful of opponents.

Among those opposing the plan, urging caution or suggesting changes, were letters from representatives of National Fuel Gas Corp., Channellock and the Erie-based Manufacturer and Business Association.

“There needs to be more representation and input on a potentially huge impact on our business from companies like ours before a vote is taken,” wrote Jon S. DeArment, president and chief executive officer. Channellock operation, in a letter dated May 20. .

After more than two years of development by a volunteer task force, review and recommendation by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and months of discussion at city council meetings, members were ready to vote on the 97-page plan.

Before that, however, community members, including town residents as well as business and property owners in the town, offered about an hour of additional comment at the start of the council meeting on Wednesday.

Several adversaries offered visions of a near future Meadville that has become increasingly apocalyptic. Among their comments: The costly “pie-in-the-sky goals” of the “noble plan” would result in a near future Meadville in which over-regulated businesses have fled the city, leaving a landscape of vacant storefronts and unaffordable rentals properties with ovens powered exclusively by solar and wind energy and roofs covered partly with solar panels, partly with supposedly eco-friendly moss.

In stark contrast, Climate Action Task Force member David Miller, the sole representative of the volunteers who crafted the plan to speak at the meeting, offered a utopian vision of a future in which city residents commit to act on the plan.

“Long term,” read Miller in a prepared statement, “our community-wide efforts will provide healing balm to our sadly fractured democracy, fostering a shared sense of purpose and meaning by moderating our lives more busier with an exhilarating vision of saving our breathtakingly beautiful yet oh so precarious planet from further desecration.

Town resident Jan Hyatt, who backed the plan and was the last member of the public to address the council, suggested compromise was the best response to the contrasting visions offered by the two groups.

“It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” Hyatt said. “I think falling into the trap of either is dangerous for us.” If audience members had any concerns about the plan’s implementation, Hyatt suggested, they should join the environmental advisory committee the board should form as the next step on the climate action plan.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.


Source link