Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Roanoke County’s ties with sustainability group questioned
Speakers at a board of supervisors meeting said a worldwide group is using global warming as an excuse to meddle in local government.
By Cody Lowe
Correction (July 27, 2011: 3:45 p.m.): A story on Tuesday’s Roanoke County Board of Supervisors’ meeting incorrectly reported when the county joined ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability. The county joined that organization in 2007.
The story also incorrectly reported no one had spoken previously before the board in opposition to the ICLEI affiliation. In fact, speakers did raise the issue at the two immediately preceding meetings of the board. | Our corrections policy
A political group that claims credit for helping persuade the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors not to adopt new urban development planning rules last month was back before the board Tuesday.
This time, about 10 speakers, many mentioning ties to the tea party movement, put pressure on the board to disaffiliate from an international organization the speakers said helps promote those types of regulations.
The county has been affiliated with ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability since 2007, adopting initiatives for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other conservation causes. The group was founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.
Speakers voiced opposition to the affiliation at the two previous supervisors’ meetings.
Apparently at the urging of the Roanoke Tea Party’s leadership and Web page, which predicted an end to the connection if people expressed their concerns, speaker after speaker called on the board to abandon its $1,200-a-year affiliation with the group.
Lawrence Alldridge summed up the concerns of many by linking ICLEI to what he called the “questionable theory of man-made global warming.”
He warned of the group’s links to the United Nations, which was roundly condemned for trying to take over control of local government.
“I strongly object to this dubious agenda and that ICLEI can dictate to you. Do not doubt that you are being dictated to by ICLEI.”
The group’s policies promoting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and controlling development “have taken away our rights. You’re allowing the camel’s nose under the tent.”
Other speakers claimed that affiliation with ICLEI was tantamount to letting a foreign government dictate local policies and stripping them of freedoms guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions.
Most, including Roanoke Tea Party President Chip Tarbutton, demanded that the county sever all ties to the group.
Although ICLEI wasn’t on the supervisors’ agenda, the speakers took advantage of the usual spot open to any public comments during the meeting’s evening session.
The board took no action on ICLEI, and only Charlotte Moore, the Cave Spring District representative and a proponent of the group and its local component, RC-CLEAR, even mentioned it in her closing remarks.
Even skeptics of man-made global warming, she said, “do believe if we don’t preserve and sustain what we have, we may not be able to leave clean air, clean water and a nonpolluted valley” to the next generation.
The other contentious topic of the day was the first reading of proposed new regulations for the utility-scale generation of wind energy.
As with ICLEI, there was no public hearing scheduled on the topic — the only action was a procedural motion to set a public hearing date for Aug. 23 on the proposals.
Chairman Butch Church allowed five speakers at the afternoon session to voice their concerns to the board.
Four more speakers addressed that topic at the evening session, all opposed to a plan to put utility-scale wind turbines on Poor Mountain. No specific application for such a wind farm has been made, but Chicago-based Invenergy is widely known to be planning a project there.
Although Windsor Hills District Supervisor Ed Elswick made an impassioned plea for continued study of the subject and the regulations that have been recommended by the county’s planning commission, he voted with the others to advance the issue for the public hearing on Aug. 23.
That will be the board’s next meeting date, and it will include other public hearings as well — including one on regulations for the shooting of pneumatic guns in the county — which caused the board to move up that evening’s meeting time to 6 p.m.
The word is beginning to get out… this Agenda 21 is a radical plan that must be stopped.