City of Frederick developing sustainability plan (draft included here)

At their October 22nd workshop, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Frederick reviewed the Introduction and Challenges sections of a draft Sustainability Master Plan being developed for the city.

The process is being coordinated by Jenny Willoughby, who was hired as the city’s Sustainability Manager in April.

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From the workshop agenda:

Background Information: The City’s draft Sustainability Master Plan is crafted in stages with input from City staff and the Green Initiatives Team. This first section of the plan will serve as a framework for which policies and action items can be developed and explored in additional plan sections. The draft Challenges section states the sustainability challenges we have in the City and offers a few examples of the policies and actions that will be addressed to help overcome those challenges.

You can read the entire ten page draft below. It includes a brief introduction, and eight sections:

• Transportation Options
• Energy Solutions
• Waste & Recycling
• Impervious Surfaces & Built Environment
• Urban Canopy & Open Spaces
• Food & Nutrition
• Water Quality & Water Supply
• Air Quality

Each of the sections includes a few paragraphs of text, and concludes with a list of examples of policies and actions that will be explored as the plan is developed.

The complete text of the draft “Sustainability Master Plan” is below.

You can watch all or part of the October 22nd workshop here:
http://cityoffrederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=2315

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The presentation by Sustainability Manager, Jenny Willoughby, is the first item on the agenda (and video).


The City of Frederick
Sustainability Master Plan

Introduction

Frederick is committed to sustainability for everyone who lives, works, and plays in the City. With participation from businesses, residents, and government, we will create a City that is resilient at its core and periphery and will become a sustainability model for the region.

This plan is the City’s framework to tackle challenges and prioritize policies and actions that will guide Frederick toward a more sustainable future. The policies and actions suggested in this plan will help the City provide access to transportation, healthy food, educational and cultural resources, local jobs, green spaces, clean air and water to residents and businesses.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability means maintaining balance between economic, social, and ecological needs for today and for future generations. Our sustainable choices will ensure healthy residents, healthy communities, and a healthy environment now and into the future.

What does sustainability mean for you?

A sustainable city benefits everyone by providing better transportation, buildings, neighborhoods, parks,and healthy places to work and live. The City is working toward a more sustainable community by:

    • Supporting a strong, local economy with better access to jobs, services, and amenities
    • Encouraging healthier lifestyles by providing alternative transportation options and access to nutritious food choices
    • Leading the way in more efficient energy and fuels to reduce costs and our carbon footprint
    • Protecting water quality and green spaces while encouraging smart development
    • Designing communities such that all levels of income are supported with adequate services and amenities

How do we make it happen?

We can achieve sustainability through a collaborative process. Each of us plays an important part in creating and maintaining a sustainable Frederick. The City government is leading this effort, and residents and private businesses also are essential to achieving these goals. By building partnerships with various committees, interest groups, local and state government, and within City departments, sustainable ideas and actions will filter through projects on every level. This portion of the plan outlines

Challenges and Opportunities that will help each of us be part of the sustainability solution. The Policies and Actions sections will be forthcoming.

Challenges & Opportunities

This section outlines core sustainability areas for the City of Frederick and explains the difficulties and opportunities presented by each. This list will evolve as more input is gathered from staff and the public.

Transportation Options

Challenges: The City has made great strides to provide a range of transportation options to access amenities, work, and home. Many amenities are walkable, bikeable, or accessible via mass transit and this accessibility is improving within the City each year. Reducing the need for car trips will help improve air quality, reduce the overall carbon footprint, and help lead to a healthier City.

One alternative transportation option is a shared-use path which allows pedestrians and cyclists a route separated from automobile traffic. In 2015, two sections of shared-use path will be connected between Waterford and Baker parks, linking the City’s western reaches along Rock Creek with the City center and east to the MARC train station. Ultimately, the planned Rails-With-Trails paths, shared-use paths, on-street cycling lanes, and sharrows will help create alternative transportation corridors that connect the MARC station at the City center with the Tuscarora path and Worman’s Mill, the Golden Mile, Monocacy Boulevard, and the Monocacy River. Portions of East Street that connect the paths have already been marked with sharrows for bicycle traffic, providing part of a north-south access corridor. As of 2014, approximately 10 of the planned 25 miles of shared-use pathways have been constructed.

In addition, the Frederick MARC station provides an excellent alternative via heavy rail to those commuters who work outside the City. TransIT Services of Frederick County operates a robust connector, shuttle, and para-transit network throughout the City and County with new stops added as development occurs.

Each of these alternative transportation options provides choices for less reliance on autos. While these accomplishments demonstrate significant dedication to alternative transportation and increased access for all, there are areas of the City that lack walkable and bikeable streets and paths.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to improve alternative transportation options within the City. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Adopt Complete Streets policy
    2. Explore possibility of electric vehicle charging stations in parking areas throughout the City
    3. Explore telecommuting and flexible work schedule options for City employees
    4. Increase number of bicycle racks throughout the City
    5. Improve the City fleet with Maryland Energy Administration and other grant funds

Energy Solutions

Challenges: Many City-owned buildings have received upgrades to lighting and HVAC systems to reduce energy costs and reduce use of power generated by fossil fuels. Through a Maryland Smart Energy Communities (MSEC) grant the City is establishing baselines for its utilities and its fleet and prioritizing projects. The grant also provides for energy efficiency upgrades, such as lighting in City Hall, William Talley Recreation Center, and for street lights in the 2015 fiscal year. The aging lighting infrastructure presents a challenge to upgrading to the most efficient lighting choices, but these upgrades will help the City meet its MSEC goal of reducing per-square-foot electricity consumption by 15 percent over the next five years.

In addition, Frederick already has a few hybrid vehicles in its fleet. The high cost of fuel-efficient, hybrid, natural gas, and electric vehicles make it difficult to green the fleet, but increasing the number of these vehicles will help the City reduce its carbon footprint and improve air quality.

To establish itself as a leader in green energy solutions, the City should endeavor to find ways to incorporate solar in public spaces, such as parking lots, parks, and other visible areas that can serve to increase resiliency, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and as an educational opportunity. In addition, the City should explore the feasibility of electric vehicle charging stations coupled with solar for residents and its own fleet and possible incentives for drivers of those vehicles.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to improve green energy options within the City. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Adopt energy efficiency and petroleum reduction policies
    2. Explore solar at the Frederick Municipal Airport
    3. Explore solar opportunities throughout the City
    4. Explore potential for electric vehicles in the City fleet
    5. Explore potential for electric vehicle charging stations in the City’s parking areas

Waste & Recycling

Waste generated by a city is one visible indicator of its sustainability. Many communities throughout the nation are moving toward a net-zero waste goal, which means increased recycling and composting and reduced trash that is landfilled or incinerated. None of the City-generated trash, recyclables, or compostables are processed or stored within the City. Trash is landfilled in or transferred out of the County, its yard waste stored and composted in Frederick County, and its recyclables processed at a
Frederick County facility.

Approximately 1,450 to 1,600 tons of trash is collected from City residents and businesses each month. Each year, the City spends nearly $1.5 million in tipping fees to Frederick County to landfill that waste or transfer it out of the County.

Recycling is not mandated in the City, but approximately 91 percent of residents have a recycling cart. Despite the high number of carts, only 51 percent of them are set out for pick-up. Fewer than 300 tons of recyclables are collected each month in the City, a total annual tonnage of 3,578 in 2013. The challenge will be encouraging those who already have carts to recycle more and reaching the 10 percent of residents who do not currently recycle.

The City accepts yard waste to be composted at a Frederick County facility. However, household kitchen and business compost has not been addressed. The City already is exploring the potential for processing compost at its wastewater treatment plant. Accepting all compostables could lead to significant savings
in tipping fees.

Reducing trash and increased recycling and composting will lead to fewer City funds spent on tipping fees and reduced strain on the landfill. The City will be challenged with changing the way residents think of trash, recyclables, and compostables over the next few years.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to improve the City’s waste stream. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Provide recycling for residents and businesses throughout the City
    2. Implement paperless strategies throughout internal City operations
    3. Study what percentage of recyclables, organics, and reusables are in the City’s trash stream to help set goals for each
    4. Explore incentives to increase recycling among residents who already recycle and those who do not recycle at all
    5. Adopt recycling mandate
    6. Explore a pay-as-you-throw system for trash

Impervious Surfaces & Built Environment

From parking lots to lighting, the built environment can be a significant source of many kinds of pollution and contributes to increased energy use. More specifically, impervious surfaces degrade water quality and habitat, increase water and air temperatures and stormwater runoff. A sustainable Frederick will mean finding balance between developed spaces and the natural environment.

Approximately 20 percent of Frederick is impervious with rooftops, parking lots, sidewalks, and other hardscape. Some areas can be up to 50 percent impervious. The heat island, an urban area that is typically warmer than the surrounding rural landscape, can mean increased temperatures within the City of about five degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 22 degrees at night, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Impervious surfaces cause much of this temperature increase.

Stormwater from impervious surfaces runs off into the nearest waterway without the benefit of being filtered through plant roots and soil, carrying pollutants directly to the stream. With little or no vegetation to help filter stormwater and provide shade, stream temperatures increase and habitat can be degraded with excess sediment and algae blooms.

Alternatives, such as cool roofs, increased canopy coverage, and pervious pavement could be costly to install and maintain, but will offer significant positive impacts to water quality, energy efficiency, and health of residents.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to find balance between the developed cityscape and natural environment. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Adopt Dark-Sky outdoor lighting policy
    2. Explore incentives for capturing beyond the required one inch of stormwater
    3. Explore mandates for best management practices for improving after-construction soil infiltration rates
    4. Explore incentives for installing pervious hardscape for homeowners and businesses
    5. Explore incentives for homeowner downspout disconnections
    6. Explore incentives for impervious area reduction on existing properties that are not necessarily being redeveloped

Urban Canopy & Open Spaces

The health of the City’s waterways, its air quality, and its green spaces rely on a robust tree canopy, however demand for open spaces also is an important consideration. Both tree canopy and open spaces are vital to a healthy and sustainable city.

According to a 2009 urban tree canopy study, only 14 percent of Frederick is forested, significantly less than the goal of 40 percent. Trees can help clean the air by capturing particulate matter, taking up carbon dioxide, absorbing excess nutrients through their root systems, and can help curb the urban heat island effect, among other benefits. The City is planting canopy in passive parks and along stream corridors, but there is not enough land to meet the goal. Planting on private property and privately held community green space is vital to achieving 40 percent canopy cover.

In 2015, the City will launch a pilot inventory effort for homeowners, focused on a specific neighborhood advisory council (NAC) area. The effort will help the City learn about canopy diversity and will educate homeowners about the importance of urban tree canopy on public and private lands. After assessing the collected data, the inventory project may expand to inventory other NACs.

In addition to tree canopy, the City’s parks also provide open spaces. The City supports 72 parks, a total of about 677 acres of green space. About 624 of those acres are maintained in some way, providing opportunities for organized sports, gathering spots for events, and other leisure activities.

The City is tasked with maintaining the balance of open and green spaces for sports and leisure, increasing canopy coverage, and providing space for community gardens.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to find balance for all the possible uses of open and green spaces. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Educate the public about the importance of urban canopy
    2. Establish tree preservation guidelines for City-owned property and developers of private property
    3. Update policy to require a minimum of 85 percent native species with zero invasive species planted in commercial and City plantings
    4. Continue to inventory and assess tree canopy for better management

Food & Nutrition

The City of Frederick is full of shops, museums, and restaurants, but has few grocery stores. Some grocers that are located in City limits are accessible via bus or car, but pedestrian and bicycle access to these healthful food outlets is a challenge. There are several farmers markets in the City, one of which, the West Frederick Market, was voted 15th in the nation, providing fresh locally-grown produce during the growing season. However, those markets are only open on specific days for a few hours.

Frederick city residents have expressed increased interest in growing food that is only a few feet or miles from home. Willow Brook and Hargett Farm parks also offer a total of 72 plots of community garden space, each plot being 1,250 square feet. More than two acres of park space has been dedicated to community gardens, allowing garden space for City residents that may not otherwise have access to garden space to grow their own food.

In addition to utilizing City open space for growing food, some residents have expressed interest in raising livestock in their own yards. Currently, there are no options for raising livestock, limiting residents’ ability to opt for hyper-local food.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to improve access to healthful food for City residents. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are some examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Initiate a pilot project to determine if the livestock ordinance should be updated to allow specific livestock, such as hens and honeybees
    2. Explore incentives that might encourage grocers to open in specific areas of the City that currently lack grocers
    3. Encourage local grocers and restaurants to donate usable food to local soup kitchens
    4. Explore creative options, such as opportunities for mobile food trucks offering fresh vegetables and fruits in areas that lack grocery stores

Water Quality & Water Supply

The health of Frederick’s streams is impacted by lack of riparian buffers, runoff, and air pollutants. Many of the waterways flowing through the City originate or end outside the municipality’s boundaries. Ideally, water flowing out of the City would be higher quality than when it flowed in. With a 50-foot minimum required riparian buffer, the City is well on the way to improving the quality of its waterways. However, buffers are lacking on several miles of stream corridor and those areas will be prioritized for
planting.

Curbing runoff with innovative best management practices (BMPs) will help treat more stormwater on site and reduce the pollutant load going to the waterways. With a mandated stormwater fee in Maryland, BMPs should become a focus of new development and redevelopment.

Some of the waterways flowing through the City are direct drinking source waters for Frederick residents and they also will become drinking water for other municipalities downstream. The City’s water supply currently comes from Linganore and Fishing creeks and Monocacy and Potomac rivers. Currently only providing about 16 percent of the City’s water, the Potomac River will eventually provide more than 50 percent of the City’s water supply through the Potomac River Water Service Agreement with Frederick County.

The 7,500-acre Frederick City Watershed presents an additional challenge as it provides a portion of the City’s water supply and offers significant recreational opportunities. The watershed also is a major connector between Gambrill and Cunningham Falls state parks with more than 80 miles of trails, only 12 of which are sanctioned. The mayor-appointed Watershed Ad Hoc Committee is addressing the balance of water quality, water supply, and recreation in the watershed.

The City also is part of the Potomac Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP), a formal agreement among jurisdictions whose drinking water source is the Potomac. Each year, the DWSPP conducts exercises to practice protocols during times of drought. Should drought or disaster impact the region, Frederick should have a good handle on how its water supply might be affected.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to improve water quality and maintain adequate water supply for the City. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Prioritize riparian areas for tree planting efforts
    2. Educate City residents and businesses about water conservation
    3. Explore incentives for developers to capture beyond the required one inch of stormwater
    4. Determine the adaptability of the City’s water supply to climate change
    5. Explore incentives for property owners to reduce existing impervious areas or install BMPs to help reduce stormwater runoff in existing urban areas

Air Quality

Air quality fluctuates as emissions from vehicles, industry, and power plants increase or decrease. Exposure to elevated levels of airborne pollutants cause and aggravate a range of lung and respiratory ailments including allergies, emphysema, pneumonia, and chronic bronchitis. It also is a risk factor for cardio vascular problems such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats.

The EPA tracks the air quality in the Washington metropolitan region. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is calculated for five major pollutants: particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5, and PM1), ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. All of these pollutants are regulated by the Clean Air Act and together they indicate if the air quality should be of concern each day. Good air quality is rated below 50, moderate air quality rates 51 to 100, and the worst air quality, which is very unhealthy for everyone rates 201 to 300. The Washington metropolitan region experiences mostly good to moderate days, with very few rating above 100.

Frederick has very little industry that contributes to air pollution, however, airborne pollutants can travel hundreds of miles, settle on land, and be carried to waterways in runoff. Of particular concern are pollutants from the combustion of fossil fuels, the release of chemical byproducts from industrial and agricultural processes, and waste incineration, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Pollution from industry in states west of Maryland makes the issue difficult to correct. Continuing to encourage alternative modes of transportation, providing safe bicycle and pedestrian corridors, building infrastructure for electric vehicles, and increasing the urban tree canopy will help reduce emissions on a local scale.

Opportunities: There are several opportunities to improve air quality in the City. All will be discussed in detail in the forthcoming Policies and Actions sections. Below are a few examples of policies and actions that will be explored.

    1. Prioritize tree planting throughout the City
    2. Determine the expected effects of urban heat island and climate change on the City
    3. Prioritize alternative transportation throughout the City to reduce dependence on autos

Frederick News Post
City reviews new sustainability plan
Thursday, October 23, 2014