2015-06-26 / Community

Climate agreement up for renewal

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — It appears to be green-light-go in terms of Kennebunk remaining a “green” community.

At its June 23 meeting, the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen was scheduled to vote on a request to sign an updated version of the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, last adopted by the town in 2007. That vote occurred after the deadline for this week’s Post, but all indications from the board’s June 9 meeting made approval seem likely.

The last version of the climate agreement was drafted in 2005 and, two years after signing on, Kennebunk acted on a number of the recommendations. That resulted in adoption of a no-idling policy for vehicles at local schools and public buildings, as well as an energy audit of all municipal buildings. According to Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, composting and updated recycling operations also came as a result of the 2007 signing.

Across Maine, 15 communities signed the 2005 climate plan, including Biddeford,

Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunkport, Saco and South Portland.

A new version of the climate plan, adopted in 2014 at the 82nd annual Mayor’s Conference in Washington, D.C., has broadened the scope of the earlier document to better focus on reducing waste and creating jobs and business growth in the so-called “green” sector.

The Kennebunk Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee voted May 13 to recommend selectmen sign on to the new agreement. At that meeting, the committee also authorized an update of the town’s last energy audit, conducted in 2010, while Chairman Anthony Dater said in a May 18 memo to selectmen that data is forthcoming on Kennebunk’s “greenhouse gas inventory.”

Producing that inventory is one goal set as a “local action” in the new climate plan. By signing the document, selectmen agree to place “particular emphasis on engaging the community . . . in a concerted effort to set and achieve” targets set by the agreement. Other local actions urged, though not necessarily required, in the agreement, include:

 Adopt and enforce land use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create “compact, walkable urban communities.

 Promote alternative transportation options, creating incentives to use bicycles, car pools, and public transportation.

 Amend building codes to stress energy efficiency.

 Reduce the fleet of municipal vehicles and increase the fuel efficiency of those that remain.

 Recover methane from wastewater treatment for energy production.

 Prepare municipal systems for sea level rise.

 Promote the planting of trees.

The updated agreement was posted on the town website as part of the June 9 meeting packet for the board of selectmen.

“I thought it would be good to get it out to the public and see what kind of comments we get before you deliberate as to how to move forward,” Tibbetts told selectmen at the time

Selectman David Spofford urged residents to read the new agreement in advance of the June 23 vote, so they can be ready to offer comments to the board.

“It’s not the simple agreement they would think. There’s a lot to it,” Selectman Albert Searles said, in seconding that advice.

The updated agreement calls on a 17 percent reduction in so-called “greenhouse gas emissions” by 2020.

However, one resident was ready to comment at the June 9 session.

“I just think it’s great the town is supporting the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement and has taken action on so many initiatives since 2007,” said Arline Poisson, a member of the town’s Conservation and Open Space Planning Commission. “I just wouldn’t want to see a mayor in the town.”

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