Topic Team: Sustainability

On Tuesday, February 21st, a group of citizens met to discuss sustainability as it relates to development and environment.  They worked through a set of draft goals and policies offering fresh ideas.  A follow-up meeting to further discuss these goals and policies was held on March 6th.  However, that meeting had low attendance.

Below you will find the current draft of the Sustainability Goals and Policies.  Of course, further comments are welcome from the public.  Feel free to contact the Newton Development Planner, Erin Chambers at erinc@newtongov.org with suggestions or more ideas.

These draft goals and policies will again be subject to further review in a public forum before being incorporated into any final document.

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Sustainability

Sustainability can mean many things depending on the context.  From a comprehensive planning standpoint, sustainability means to leave Newton in better condition for future generations.  Specifically, Newton’s sustainability goals and policies address the conservation of natural resources through efficient use of land, energy, water, air and materials.

 Goal 1:  Continue to grow renewable energy industries (“Green Collar Jobs”) in Newton.

 Rationale:  An industrial sector that includes renewable energy industries accomplishes a number of things for Newton.  While providing manufacturing jobs for the community, it also places renewable energy and sustainability, such as wind-power, into the forefront of our consciousness, thus building a value for conservation and protection of natural resources throughout the City.

 Policy 1:  Support and encourage expansion of existing “green” industries while seeking out new “green” businesses.

 Policy 2:  Promote and support the existing education infrastructure for local industrial and renewable energy training at the newly established I-Green Center and Des Moines Area Community College.  A well-trained workforce will attract new “green” industries to the community as well as encourage growth of existing ones.

 Goal 2:  Reduce Newton’s impact on the South Skunk Watershed.

 Rationale:  Newton does not exist in a bubble, and storm water generated within our City boundaries eventually leaves working its way down stream to the South Skunk River.  To that end, it is important for our community to consider how our development actions and practices can impact the South Skunk Watershed and to work to improve any negative impact the City may have on the watershed.

 Policy 1:  Review storm water retention requirements for commercial and industrial developments/re-developments and amend those requirements where necessary so as to encourage the use of natural systems such as rain gardens in the slowing and treatment of storm water on commercial and industrial sites.

 Goal 3:  Become a green community.

 Rationale: Becoming a green community has many benefits.  First of all, green building and development techniques can continue to preserve our natural resources for generations to come.  Secondly, as energy costs continue to soar, greener technologies for energy generation and efficiency become much more attractive and possible.  Finally, not all sustainable land development practices are costly or difficult.  Newton could, quite literally, become a green community through the strategic use of trees and other plantings.

 Policy 1:  Encourage and promote a new standard landscape aesthetic within the community that is more native and natural than the heavily manicured, heavily waters, and heavily fertilized aesthetic of the past.  The City of Newton should model this aesthetic on City owned land.

Policy 2:  City landscaping projects should utilize native Iowa plantings and trees while striving for diversity.  A diverse tree and plant population will reduce the impacts that pests, blight, and disease, such as Emerald Ash Borer or Dutch Elms Disease, can have on communities.

 Policy 3:  Continue support and foster the growth of the Community Garden programs.  Community Gardens can provide citizens with healthy, fresh food that has been locally grown.

 Policy 4:  Utilize new technologies that reduce energy consumption and/or have a lower impact on the environment when possible.  For example, city lighting projects should utilize LED lighting which has a longer bulb life and consumes less electricity.

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