True sustainability requires eye to future |

True sustainability requires eye to future

by Pete Coates

This letter is addressed to all the long time hardworking residents of Douglas County; those residents who still work for a living, who are raising children, those who own a small business or work for one and those who dream of owning a home or building their dream house someday.

There has been much dialogue and rhetoric concerning the growth management initiatives in Douglas County over the past few years. The issues have been formulated around the term “sustainable growth.”

I am a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and am the appointed Residential Green Building Advocate for the USGBC Nevada. I can speak from a position of authority on the true meaning of sustainable growth and the term “sustainability.” The meaning of truly sustainable community development can be found in the following definition:

Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Furthermore, sustainable growth must be predicated by the content following quote:

“The creation of jobs is the first critical step toward the creation of a livable and vibrant community where human initiative, work, and stable families can flourish. However, economic development can only be successful when part of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy that includes physical development as well as human development. A community where streets are safe to walk, the air and water are clean, housing is secure, and human services are accessible, and where a vital civic spirit is nurtured by innovative design, is a community that can be a source of strength and hope.”

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A sustainable community is a community that is secure in its infrastructure, job base, economic stability, tax base, educational opportunities, recreation, housing affordability and availability, basic retail services, and natural healthy living standards.

The recent economic downturn has threatened to erode these basic principles of sustainability in our community. We have all experienced first hand how “no growth,” or “slow growth” has affected the health of our community. There are narrow interest groups in our community who define “sustainable growth” by the narrow definition of limiting the number of homes to be allocated for building permits to a hard and fixed specific number, a number that is well below the standard of recent vibrant growth and economic activity. Through the efforts of certain builders, developers, county officials and concerned citizens Douglas County now has a growth ordinance that, if managed properly, may contribute to the overall sustainable objectives of its citizens.

Greg Lynn has had a major positive influence in ensuring the goals of true sustainability have been achieved in this community. Greg is a builder and small developer. He is also a candidate for county commissioner. Like the majority of builders and developers in this community he adheres to a high standard of personal and professional integrity. Your home was built by folks like Greg. The stores you shop in were developed and built by folks like Greg. The streets, the schools, the public buildings we use and inhabit were all constructed by individuals and businesses that work hard to insure that we have a comfortable, secure and healthy community in which to live and prosper.

The house you retreat to and call a home was built by folks like Greg Lynn. Builders and developers in Douglas County are good people. They continually receive unfair treatment and characterization by those who oppose any new development at all. Builders and developers are not evil, self serving enterprises or individuals. They are people like you and me. They may even be you. Your business or job may depend on the economy they create and sustain. I encourage you to please vote on Aug. 12. I encourage you consider carefully the candidates for county commission. I encourage you to vote for rationality, objectivity and integrity. Vote for Greg Lynn, Mike Olson, and Blaine Spires. These gentlemen truly represent the broad and inclusive ideals of sustainability our community deserves. They will listen and respond to every citizen for the benefit of us all.

– Pete Coates is the president of the Douglas County Building Industry Association and an appointed residential green building advocate of the U.S. Green Building Council on Nevada

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