Greenbelts needed to be ‘low impact’

Recently, I sat in on the county planning commission meeting regarding the low impact development ordinance. While the county engineer was offering some ideas, most of the plan seemed to skirt the primary issues. Where was any line drawn in the sand for retention of green spaces, greenbelts to protect watersheds and slopes? The aerial photo used for the presentation showed the green of the county 10 years ago. At least 70 percent of that green is gone, not to be replaced. The pathetic vision of “urban forests” was of four trees next to some buildings.

Most of the suggested mitigations are ineffective. I do not think that the mitigation idea of “permeable road” works too well from my experience. The roads are porous, but the runoff goes under the roads, undermines them, especially on steep terrain and creates a process of cracking. As a taxpayer, I do not want to be constantly paying for road maintenance.

Further, the county is allowing other harmful mitigations such as retention ponds to replace the greenbelts. The retention ponds without trees and undergrowth are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and disease and do nothing to cool and clean the runoff. So far, nothing they have suggested is as effective as leaving the trees and ferns in steep or other watershed areas, even at the cost of sweeping views.

Mother Nature took years to evolve ways to clean and purify our waters. Can’t we be a bit humble and just learn to preserve it?

Joan Smith


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