Saturday, April 19, 2008

Provide legislation, get concessions

As many of you know, I went to a renewable energy conference (on my dime... no taxpayer-funded trips for me... though I wouldn't accept it anyway) in early March. I found it fascinating, but since I came down with the flu as soon as I got back... then recovered and jumped into the seemingly endless dog n pony show budget meetings immediately thereafter... I never offered you much about the conference. And I'm not sure when I'll get to, but...

One session was particularly memorable. The topic was "The State of Pennsylvania as a leader in renewable energy." Based on the discussion, it certainly sounded as though PA has made some wise choices (choices that I know CT has gotten completely wrong).

The most memorable anecdote to the discussion was offered by PAs Secretary for the Dept of Environmental Protection. She explained how a Spanish company had approached her state in an effort to sell windmills. The hitch for the company was that while there was a market for windmills (electricity generation, onsite, high efficiency, etc.), the legal process was a hurdle that made the company question whether they could ever sell windmills in PA profitably. But since PA officials felt that windmills made sense for them (they don't make much sense in CT), they wanted to ensure something happened.

That's when PA negotiated with the Spanish company and came up with an offer they couldn't refuse!

PA said "give us the plants and we'll give you the policy."

Pennsylvania agreed to rewrite their laws, in exchange for the Spanish building plants in PA that (in just the past few years) have created nearly 3,000 new manufacturing jobs.

I think it was a fantastic idea.

Here's my question though... since the PZC "gave the policy" to the north end developers, why didn't the PZC ask for any concessions? Couldn't they ask for something simple like a multi-level parking garage that would reduce impervious surfaces and help protect the environment? Remember, they did put in that stipulation about "residential square footage being no more than 40% of the retail square footage." So couldn't they (for instance) require that "impervious surfaces related to parking represent no more than 1/3 of the total square footage dedicated to parking"... thereby creating a three-story parking lot?

Not having done this was a complete failure in planning.

As the Herald pointed out this week, this project is still moving forward. And I have absolutely no expectation that there will be any substantive changes to the proposed ND. But it sure would be nice if our new PZC stood up and said that this project was only moving forward in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

"But it sure would be nice if our new PZC stood up and said that this project was only moving forward in a more environmentally friendly manner."

I totally agree.

And it sure would be nice if our TC stood up and said they will refuse the funds for a turf field and stay with a more environmentally friendly grass field.

Anonymous said...

The P&Z can't stand up it changed the zone text and thus let the horse out of the barn. They gave no thought to how it would effect every other area. They led us down the river. They did a poor job. Many people voiced their concerns but they didn't want to listen. The 7 to 2 vote was not believable at all. 5 to 4 would have been more believable.