Tampa City Council debates green ordinance
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02/14/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Tampa City Council today tentatively moved forward on producing a Green Ordinance, but it still is months from becoming reality.

The Council acted after hearing from a number of members of the public and the business community who were critical of the city’s failure to act on the issue.

City Councilman John Dingfelder himself had grown weary of Mayor Pam Iorio’s reluctance to act, and drafted his own proposals for his Council colleagues and the mayor to address.

During a workshop, the Council went through nine provisions of the measure, which include offering developers incentives for meeting certain efficiency standards, fast-tracking building permits, refunding a portion of permit and utility hookup fees, and lowering the city’s gas consumption by purchasing more energy efficient vehicles.

Earlier, the Council heard from members of the public, and many chastised the city for joining the push to becoming energy efficient much later than other localities.

Chingwen Cheng, a landscape architect in Tampa, said she understood concerns by the mayor and the City Council to waive fees for developers who create green buildings, but said there would be savings on the other end.

Tampa is a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, but the city only joined after hundreds of other cities had already done so.

Donna Mannon is with Creative Tampa Bay. She asked the Council if they wondered why somebody involved with economic devopment might be talking green, but she said it made total sense.

USF Architectural student Mark Berlinder says he has no intention of living in Tampa after he graduates, and the city’s lack of urgency regarding climate change is one reason.

But some in the audience took exception to some of the provisions in Dingfelder’s proposal.

Woffer Johnson is president of THAN, a neighborhood association group. He said his organization did not support the proposal to grant density bonuses for the construction of green buildings, especially in residential neighborhoods.

Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik now builds homes in West Tampa. He said if a builder builds a home that uses less water or sewage, that builder and homeowner should get a break from the city.

Kathy Byrd is a state licensed general contractor said her firm has committed to being completely green by next year, and she says she’ll do so regardless of whether the city adopts a Green Ordinance.

Charlie Miranda said the city shouldn’t do anything unless people begin doing energy conservation at home.

City staff will review the proposals and try to provide a cost estimate in a few months before the Council will revisit the proposals.

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