Monday, September 10, 2007

Help Set the Environmental Agenda at the State House

I received a surprise email today. State Representative John J. Loughlin II reached out to the readers of Sustainable Sakonnet to ask for ideas and input to help craft the upcoming legislative agenda. As he puts it, "I am always seeking new and innovative ideas that we can put in practice to sustain and protect our environment. Your input would be most welcome."

Personally, I think this is great and I appreciate the outreach. We may sit on opposite sides of the aisle with our party affiliations, but if someone asks you for your opinion, you best well give it to them.

Now is our collective opportunity. If you are at all inclined to share your voice, now is the time. I told Rep. Loughlin that I’d circle back with the results of this outreach.

Please, please, please post your thoughts and ideas. Nothing is too small or too big. Pass this on, talk to your neighbors and friends. Let’s connect and try to champion something for Sakonnet.



Anonymous said...


Two Tiverton subjects which may deserve attention.

Significant gravel excavating continues at several sites here in town. Many thousands of yards leave the town monthly. There has been an ordinance on the books for a number of years which is not being enforced and also needs to be reviewed and updated. As an example, increasing the size of the excavations is supposed to be restricted to a certain percentage of the property it covers. The Building Inspectors office has done nothing at last check to monitor this restriction. Further, there is nothing in this ordinance to require the excavator to even attempt to minimally " re-dress " the site. Take a look at those that have already been abandoned. An example is the West side of Fish Road just North of Rt #177. Look at the tree destruction from the water run-off.

Second, is the hundreds if not more of the junk vehicles which populate this town beyond the legal junk yards. Portsmouth addressed this same problem years ago and did a fine job in getting people to get rid of them and has a good ordinance to keep it that way. Copies of their ordinance has been forwarded to the last two Tiverton Councils, but little has been achieved. Junk and abandoned vehicles poison the ground water, provide homes for mosquitos, and negatively affect the values of surrounding properties.

If this town cannot properly address these issues, then maybe the State should take the lead.

Allen Smith

Garry Plunkett said...

RI Environmental Agenda:

Natural Heritage Program: RI has essentially abandoned the state natural heritage program that once monitored biological species diversity. Other New England states have these programs to ensure quality data is maintained so that regulatory decisions regarding the environment are based on facts rather than rhetoric. With the retirement of Rick Enser at DEM, the natural heritage data base was handed over to a NFP, The RI Natural History Survey. That function should reside with the state’s chief environmental authority, DEM, and be managed by adequate staffing.

New Technology Septic Systems: Bottomless sand filter septic systems now make it possible to literally have a septic system in the middle of a swamp. This opens up large tracts of wetland areas to development that were formerly unbuildable, and this risks overdevelopment of land that provides high value ecological services, e.g. flood control, ground water recharge, high quality habitat for wildlife. Regulations should only permit use of these septic systems on pre-existing lots, not on new subdivisions.

Open Space Race: In the near future Rhode Island will become the first New England state to be “built out,” with all land area either developed or protected. This makes funding to preserve open space critical for the state’s future quality of life. State open space bonds must continue to be offered for public approval.

Alternative Energy Policy: The state must accelerate efforts to develop alternative energy sources to lesson our dependence on carbon based fuels, and join other New England states in a coordinated effort to reduce C02 emissions.

Anonymous said...

I second the problems with the new septic systems on previously unbuildable lots- there's one in my neighborhood that was listed as a camp site but now they are sitting on their plan to build because the restrictions are becoming more lax soon.

Also how about better recycling available to residents. WE currently can only recycle plastics # 1 and # 2. A lot of plastics are #5 or #6 and what about aseptic packaging like soymilk containers. A lot of people in town think that it all goes in the trash anyway because of some undercover investigation on TV, so I think there needs to be some education to address this- if it did happen was it because the price for buying plastic or glass was down so it was thrown out - what exactly is the truth on this one- I can't tell you how many people say this to me!

Ok now I'm rambling- haha
- Shelli

John Loughlin said...

Thank you for these posts. This is an extremely valuable forum for the exchange of ideas. Please feel free to call me directly with your thoughts. I would also like to learn more about the revised DEM regulations endangering wetlands.
Thank you again,
John Loughlin
Home: 625-9889
Cell: 523-9700

Anonymous said...

It sure would be nice if DEM stopped canned pheasant hunting on Tiverton land. I've watched with my own eyes (from busy seapowet avenue) as hunters toss dirt clods at these hand-reared birds just feet away from them. The birds startle into the air, then the hunters take their shots. It's pathetic. And unsportsmen-like. It wouldn't happen at all if DEM didn't cart in the birds.

Which is strange since the potato fields they are released in were bought as a "buffer zone" for nearby residents. Instead they're used as habitat to justify increasing hunter-days with canned pheasant hunting.

Clearly the pheasants aren't sustainable (they're also non-native). I've seen only two that made it through the brutal winter and coyote threat. They'll likely end up in stew this October if DEM doesn't put a stop to this cruel and unsafe recreation.

Anonymous said...

Why bother putting lawn/yard waste into biodegradable paper bags? When you put them out with the trash for pick-up, they end up in the same place, in the back of the trash truck. Ultimately in the land fill. I've heard of other communities(ie. Fall River) having a seperate pick up for yard waste. Obviously any deviation from our current process would dictate higher operating costs,but there has to be a better option. What about a drop off, pick up system? A place where you drop off yard waste and would be able to pick up usable compost, with minimal operating cost would be nice.