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Janesville City Council, sustainability committee at odds

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 11, 2010
— The city council created the Janesville Sustainable Committee, but it now doesn’t seem to know what to do with it.

The council in 2008 designated Janesville as an ecomunicipality and created the committee to advise it on environmental issues.


But friction has grown between the two groups. In May, they met to find common ground. The meeting continues at 5:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall.


Some committee members say the council makes important decisions impacting the environment without seeking input from the committee, which is why several believe it was created.


The committee hopes the council involves it in future decisions on the landfill, for example.


Some council members believe the committee sometimes works against the council, rather than with it.


The friction apparently began with the city’s recently approved comprehensive land plan. Committee members believe it was a “done deal” by the time the committee was asked to review it.


Councilman Russ Steeber said the committee should follow council direction rather than work in opposition.


“We established a comp plan with boundaries for expansion, yet, in some aspects, the sustainable committee is working in direct opposition … to block what we had put down as a buffer zone for expansion.”


Councilman Bill Truman said he believes the committee should focus on environmental projects, such as discouraging the use of plastic bags.


Councilman George Brunner said he thought the committee should both advise the council and identify environmental projects.


Committee member Dan Swanson reminded the council that it voted to become an ecomunicipality and to follow four sustainable guidelines.


The guidelines should be continuously reinforced so they become habit, he suggested.


Several council members acknowledged they didn’t remember what the guidelines say.


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. It will gather at 5:30 p.m. in Room No. 417 to meet with the Janesville Sustainable Committee to discuss council expectations and possible goal setting.


Items on the agenda for the 7 p.m. meeting include:


-- Public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would give the city’s historic commission power to forbid private homeowners in historic overlay districts from doing certain unapproved exterior work. Residents could appeal to the plan commission and city council. The proposal received a positive recommendation from the plan commission.


-- Closed session to review the city manager’s performance.



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