Posted by Jesse Wood
Outgoing Boone Town Councilman Quint David, who decided not to run for re-election this cycle, said he was concerned about the lack of questions, and subsequently discussions, regarding sustainability at recent candidate forums.
So he took the matter into his own hands and asked several questions of mayoral and council candidates in the Boone municipal election. While early voting ended on Saturday, tomorrow Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day.
You can click here for more information about the candidates, but if you want to read about their viewpoints and vision on sustainability and the environment, read David’s questions and the candidates’ responses below.
(Q-1) Appalachian State is currently ranked in the Sierra Club’s ‘Cool Schools’ listings as one of greenest and most sustainable universities, as well as recently receiving a ‘gold’ rating from AASHE’s STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™) program for 2015. What ‘green’ achievements, awards, or leadership roles would you like to see the Town of Boone participate in?
Rennie Brantz: Boone should set an example for our community by continuing to implement the Urban Forestry Plan, protect our limited green spaces, and search for additional neighborhood parks. We have been recognized for our Arbor Day efforts and should continue to seek recognition for these efforts and other sustainability initiatives.
Charlotte Mizelle: I would love for Boone to add more rooftop solar, wind where possible, additional biking lanes and sidewalks and greenway trail construction for walkability. Progress on these can make for a healthier population and cut carbon emissions. These could lead to awards, but my focus is for a cleaner and healthier community. We are underway for all of these and I hope the town will continue to support these efforts financially and with assigned leadership. I would.
Loretta Clawson: Green Achievements. I would like to see Boone look into tucking small edible gardens on property owned by the town like our small strips along our buildings around parking lots, etc. with food free to all. My husband and I have a raised bed garden at our house which allows to grow a lot of the food that we eat. Even the smallest green space can be used to grow food. I would also like to look into some climate change fellowship programs, and look into more programs in water efficiency.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Follow and encourage more LEED certification as suggested by the 2030 plan.
Lynne Mason: I would like to see the Town lead by example and integrate energy conservation and efficiency in our facilities and vehicles; incorporation of LEED standards in new facilities; integrate water conservation measures for both our facilities and community wide; continued protection of our natural resources such as the steep slope ordinance, stream buffers and restoration and tree protection; integration of alternative energy sources in Town facilities such as the thermal solar system at one of our fire stations and the partnership with the Solar Shelter with EV Charging station downtown (fall 2015).
Jennifer Teague: ASU is a leader in sustainability. The town should work closely with ASU to help break new ground and implement sustainable practices.
(Q-2) The Boone 2030 vision plan contains a large Infrastructure & Sustainability ‘to-do’ list for the town. Which items would you want to address first if elected, and what items do you think should be added to this list?
Rennie Brantz: If elected Mayor, I would encourage the Town Council to continue tree planting, begin implementing new storm water management, place issues of sustainability site planning and exploration of renewable energy sources regularly on the Town Council’s agenda. I would also add a discussion of a plastic bag fee to reduce the amount of this polluting material in our land fills and oceans.
Charlotte Mizelle: The 2030 Plan has a long and excellent list of ideas for sustainability and specific ideas. I would want to first go for the low hanging fruit like rooftop solar, infill development in the town where infrastructure already exists, day-lighting streams previously covered, and eliminating floodplain development and re-development. Some of this is happening now and I would want to keep these balls rolling.
Loretta Clawson: 2030 to do list: Would like to address gateway corridor enhancement. The 2030 plan also talks about allowing for greater density in exchange for more green, but while I see higher density I don’t see the more green. The plan suggests pocket, linear, and internal parks in exchange for the higher density. Where are those parks? We need to look more thoughtfully when we approve these large projects to reserve small park space between the buildings or situated somewhere nearby where all can enjoy and where they have neighborhood access.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Continue to concentrate on the commercial tree canopy/landscape needs, evaluate flood management plans; can’t make a suggestion without seeing where the town sits as this time.
Lynne Mason: Promoting and supporting walkable development; integrate LEED standards in new Town buildings; encourage green building standards for new development through developing incentives; allow for the use of renewable energy systems; and continue the Sustainability Task Force to serve as an advisory body to Council on sustainability goals.
Jennifer Teague: I want to continue to work on the walkability plan for Boone. I think we still need to look at the mixed use requirement of new housing projects. The 2030 vision plan is a large “to-do” list and I hope to have more time in the near future to research and study the plan.
(Q-3) The 2014 Boone Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan also contains plenty of ‘to-do’ lists, recommendations, and maps of dangerous intersections and roads for the town as well. What would you do to help continue the push for safety, sidewalks, bike lanes, and reduced vehicle traffic in the town?
Rennie Brantz: There is much to do in this category. I think the Town should address the danger zones first, whether they are on roads, sidewalks, or bike paths. Part of this should be a review of town speed limits in congested areas. The use of roundabouts to calm traffic flows could also help. Cooperating with ASU to create incentives for students, especially freshmen, not to bring cars to campus would also help. Education programs for bikers and walkers will also be important.
Charlotte Mizelle: The mix of foot, bike and car traffic is super complicated to solve. I would have to learn a great deal more than I know now as to how traffic and bicycles can best be handled at extremely busy intersections like highways 105 and 321. Clearly marked crosswalks and proper light signals can also include signals for bikes as well as pedestrians…they use them in Europe where walking and biking are a huge part of “traffic” in very dense communities. We have started on solutions in Boone, but I believe we will be working on better solutions for years to come.
Loretta Clawson: Reduced Traffic. More Bikes/Walkways: We cannot solve our traffic problems by building more roads, although I would look at a bypass but think DOT would be unable to have the monies for it how or in the future. I read recently about a project in Korea where they tore up an old freeway to completely re-design it with walking and biking lanes in addition to traffic lanes. Just as important, the new design also put in better planning in regards to traffic/pedestrian flow and patterns. It would be nice if we could find a way to pilot a project on this. But, I do think money is always an issue. I also would like to explore tax relief or other incentives for using public transportation.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Review plans and see what is in place at this point in time; encourage public/private business partnerships; parking decks; more promotion of park and ride or park and walk.
Lynne Mason: I believe we have a good plan. My biggest frustration is how long it takes to implement the plan due to funding. I would like to put together a capital improvements plan for sidewalks and bike lanes and allow the voters the option to approve implementation of this plan at one time through a bond referendum. We also need to continue to work on fostering a walker and biker friendly community to enhance safety.
Jennifer Teague: Increased sidewalks, bike lanes, and streetlights are all something that I am planning to work towards while on the council. I believe that the council can work with developers to encourage them to help build sidewalks when they are adding/building new buildings downtown. I also believe the town should work with Appalcart to continue providing public transportation routes throughout the town.
(Q-4) The recent 2014-2015 Sustainability Task Force made a group of short and medium-term sustainability goals and recommendations to the town, one of which has resulted in a landmark public/private partnership for solar panels and electric vehicle chargers in the town’s downtown Depot St parking lot. This project resulted in over $100,ooo dollars of private funding, contributions from Nissan for the EV charging stations, and New River Light and Power for the electric wiring, all at minimal taxpayer expense. The multi-million dollar New River restoration in partnership with the Army Core of Engineers on the Greenway is also a great example of partnerships. What can be done to continue and promote public/private partnerships and green investment in our community?
Rennie Brantz: Public/private partnerships offer perhaps the best opportunities for advancing sustainability and a greener Boone. One opportunity in this area will be new parking decks in downtown Boone. The plastic bag reduction program offers another opportunity. Working with service organizations and ASU student organizations in the area of tree planing, river cleaning, and safety education can also help.
Charlotte Mizelle: Fortunately the mentality of our community is a look toward green living, which attracted me to Boone. Public/private partnerships are going on now and I would support them anytime Boone can become more energy efficient or conserving of the natural gifts we have living in the mountains. Tax incentives, ease of getting permits for construction and inspiring publicity would be a few ways I would want to support partnerships leading to a better Boone.
Loretta Clawson: Question 4 and 7: The Sustainability Task Force achievements have been exceptional and promising. Fortunately our world is finally moving towards a place where individuals are demanding more commitment from their governments in sustainability, restoration, etc. I believe both our citizens and private sources will continue to financially support these projects as long as we (as a Council) treat all people fairly and equitably, as long as our actions are transparent, and as long as we continue to make the case for these projects publicly. I have always supported grant and other funding for projects like you mention and will continue to do so. I believe seeking small and large grant funding in the answer to our continued good work.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Communicate to the public in more layman’s terms; more communication and education of the masses
Lynne Mason: These are great examples of public/private partnerships and are a model for future projects, which is a great way to get special projects done. I have and will continue to support these partnerships as I like to see results.
Jennifer Teague: There should be an open dialogue with developers, town and county staff to create consistency and encourage green and sustainable practices. Town staff and council should look for future partnerships to develop projects like the ones listed above.
(Q-5) The 2015 Public Works Capital improvement Plan Update contains an extensive list of street, sidewalk, greenway, and special project improvements with cost estimates extended out for the next 10 years. What ideas would you have to help expedite these needed street and sidewalk improvement projects?
Rennie Brantz: One possibility for expediting needed street and sidewalk improvements would be to expand funding mechanisms. Boone already has a sidewalk fund. It could add a street fund program that would be met with annual Town allocations, private donations, and development fees. Boone should also continue to seek grants that support these efforts, and urge private groups to develop local projects that improve neighborhoods and specific sections of the town. Individual developers and private citizens should be held responsible for repairing or replacing sidewalks or streets that are damaged because of their activities.
Charlotte Mizelle: Some of these items, i.e. streetscapes and sidewalks, need to be incorporated into the planning of every construction project in Boone and delivered “alive” at the closing of the project. These are easier and cheaper to do while the ground is disrupted for construction and can be joined up with adjacent property at that point.
Loretta Clawson: Expedite street/sidewalk improvements: Money is always harder to come by than the will. We all want to move faster on our street improvements, sidewalks, etc. I would consider taking a part of the $168,000 we pay per year to lobbyists in Raleigh and put it into sidewalk expansion and street improvements. I believe that we could hire lobbyists as needed rather than full time.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Prioritize and investigate new avenues to generate revenues for completion.
Lynne Mason: Through a bond referendum. See #3. In addition, to continue to fund projects in our annual budget.
Jennifer Teague: If the town can get the $2 million back in tax revenue, it will allow the town to expedite some of the improvements they have planned for the next few years. Also, expanding the tax base through the sale of the high school property and redevelopments, will allow for additional resources to go towards these needed projects.
(Q-6) Many citizens and scientists are concerned about the effects of climate change on our region. Drought, flooding, ice and snow have all been experienced at greater than average 100-year recurrence intervals in Boone. What can be done to make our community more resilient to these increased extreme weather events, and what specific issues would you like to address.
Rennie Brantz: We can’t change our changing weather patterns. But we can develop emergency plans that anticipate problems facing our community in times of weather emergencies. Most important would be to prepare plans to deal with health emergencies, water shortages, flooding, and shelter issues.
Charlotte Mizelle: The 2030 Plan addresses some of this very well and I would want to work on mountainside preservation and sustainable building so that run-off is minimized, mud slides are prevented, and water quality is protected. Proper zoning and project planning need to be the focus here, and perhaps financial incentives to builders to make it attractive to build to LEED standards, add solar, and water conserving plumbing. Rooftop cisterns are another way to conserve land and water.
Loretta Clawson: Climate Change Issues: For starters—we need to continue to promote rural and local products. The “Shop Local” programs are very promising and I have worked hard to encourage them. We need to conserve our natural and wetland areas and protect them from development. We need to stand our ground on not allowing high density building on Steep slopes. We need to insist on required buffers and setbacks to manage water runoff (pavement reflects heat). We need to insist on pocket and internal parks promised in the 2030 Plan. I would also like to look into Climate Change, programs.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Education in layman’s terms regarding the impact of the carbon footprint; the importance of recycling
Lynne Mason: Besides what was written in #2, we need to work to be a carbon neutral community; promoting the use of renewable energy in our policies, continue efforts to daylight streams and to maintain appropriate riparian buffer zones to address flooding; and protection of our tree canopy.
Jennifer Teague: It is important to preserve the vegetative buffering around rivers and streams and ensuring that development is responsibly spaced will help reduce property damage and will create less impediments to the water flow. We should also continue daylighting streams and restoring riparian zones.
(Q-7) The 2014-2015 Sustainability Task Force was able to complete the new wellness district greenway plans, restart a community bike program, support the new winters farmer’s market, and leverage thousands of dollars of private funding towards improving our downtown with solar and electric car chargers because of one thing: funding and support from the town council. How would you continue to support and promote the town’s sustainability initiatives if elected?
Rennie Brantz: I think Boone’s Mayor can spotlight sustainability issues with town proclamations, by regularly placing these issues on the Town Council agenda, and by keeping the community regularly informed about the Town’s efforts in sustainability and the opportunities for each citizen to be involved in sustainability.
Charlotte Mizelle: Again, I would support tax incentives and permitting advantages when a project promotes green living and sustainability. In some cases, I would support public/private partnerships which help Boone to work to becoming a “greener” town.
Loretta Clawson: Question 4: and 7: The Sustainability Task Force achievements have been exceptional and promising. Fortunately our world is finally moving towards a place where individuals are demanding more commitment from their governments in sustainability, restoration, etc. I believe both our citizens and private sources will continue to financially support these projects as long as we (as a Council) treat all people fairly and equitably, as long as our actions are transparent, and as long as we continue to make the case for these projects publicly. I have always supported grant and other funding for projects like you mention and will continue to do so. I believe seeking small and large grant funding in the answer to our continued good work.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: Review and evaluate every year and add to, upgrade or replace as needed.
Lynne Mason: I would like to see a permanent facility for a winter Farmer’s Market at the Daniel Boone site, which is part of another capital improvement plan. Our 2030 plan provides a framework for sustainable practices and I will use this plan with community input to continue to support and adopt plans and ordinances that support sustainability initiatives that will benefit our community for generations to come.
Jennifer Teague: I would continue to support the above initiatives. I believe if we can expand our tax base through redevelopment and sales of certain properties, the town will be able to continue and expand the support of these and other sustainable initiatives.
(Q-8) Any closing statement about Town of Boone sustainability you would like to add.
Charlotte Mizelle: I would also support more tree canopy throughout the town for shadier walking in the downtown area. Much of this has gone away with building but it can be improved in a carefully thought out way. I love the idea of protecting our town, which will grow, no matter what, and have it grow in a sensible way. I want it to grow in a way that we all will want to walk around town or bike into town, or park our cars in a garage if we have driven into the downtown area, and feel comfortable walking, eating out, shopping, breathing our clean mountain air, sitting by one of our day-lighted streams or rivers on a comfortable bench, admiring pretty planting or gorgeous fall color. I will work to make more of that happen in Boone.
Loretta Clawson: I was “green” long before it became fashionable and critical. I served on Council even at a time when I was the only member pushing for green initiatives. Being “green” is not just energy efficiency, bikeways and sidewalks, preservation of our natural land, and our local foods. It is all of those things and more. My record and work on the Council and as Mayor over the years have clearly demonstrated my commitment and success on these things.
Jeannine Underdown Collins: I hope to bring a balance to the board, remembering to be green and sustainable and at the same time having “good business sense” in the decision process
Lynne Mason: Sustainability needs to be a way for living for individuals, businesses and public entities. Local Government can take the lead through leading by example and adopting policies that support sustainability. Sustainability is also about local economics and buying from local businesses including sourcing of food from our local farmers. And though I am not an “expert” in sustainability, I understand the importance of sustainability for all of us and our community and am willing to learn and work with those that bring experience in sustainability.
Jennifer Teague: There are a lot of things about sustainability that I still have yet to learn. I do not have a background in sustainability or building but I believe fully in researching and talking with those (ie you and others) that do work in the field. In my personal life, I strive to protect our natural resources and use those resources in a conscientious way. I would be happy to talk with anyone more about sustainability and green building. As I stated, I still have a lot to learn and would welcome an opportunity. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Mayor candidate Ryan Hollingsworth and Council candidate David Welsh didn’t answer David’s questions but offered this statement:
Statement from Ryan Hollingsworth: Hi, I want to first thank you for your concerns on sustainability issues and also getting hold of me. Sustainability is something that I am very passionate about since that is the degree I am going for. I think the best thing to do at first is get the people of Boone informed about these issues. I’m glad we both share concerns and have the same goals in mind. I do think that the Greenway project is something that would be great to see get extended. Other sidewalks and bike lanes will be great to cut down on traffic. Like I said I’m very passionate about this and would like to know what your top concerns are. And look forward to being able to spear head this with you when elected.
Statement from David Welsh: “I do support any effort to make Boone Green. I have been in touch with the owner of Recess Skateboards to find a way to create a skateboard park and ways to safely allow skateboarding. He said I was the only candidate to come see him or get in touch with him. I want to see more bike lanes and sidewalks. I was in Amsterdam this past summer and the biking and riding lanes were amazing. My parents live off of State Farm Road and can now walk to the Wellness Center on sidewalks and not use there car. I do have a copy of the 2030 plan in my office and it makes great strides for green space and measures of sustainability for Boone. I believe in green measures to reduce traffic and pollution in Boone. I know my answers are general but you can count on me to be behind the green movement for Boone. I live downtown and my family walks and leaves the car at home every chance we get.”