Sustainable Arlington - Jan 22nd, 2020

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Planning Department Update. Emily Sullivan provides an update on planning department efforts. The group working on the sustainable transportation and mobility plan met for the first time. Their process is expected to take about a year.

The town has a net zero planning project. This is an effort by a group of communities to get to net zero by 2050. Our next phase will involve a greenhouse gas inventory. There should be a big meeting about this in May. Arlington is partnering with Melrose and Natick on its Net Zero efforts. Partnering with these communities gave us access to grant money. Partnering also allows communities to receive training from MAPC on how to perform the greenhouse gas inventory. Later, we'll use focus groups to help figure out how to deal with some of the more complicated issues in getting to net zero.

The heatsmart program (sponsored by Arlington and Winchester) will wrap up soon. Collaboration between the two communities has been beneficial.

Fossil Fuel Ban. Brookline banned natural gas piping in new buildings. Air source heat pumps cost about as much to operate as natural gas heat, but they use electric power, and can take advantage of lower-carbon sources of electricity as the grid uses them. The Attorney general is still reviewing Brookline's bylaw. The AG has 90 days and will likely request a 90 day extension. We're trying to pass a similar bylaw during our spring town meeting. The AG may not have ruled on Brookline's bylaw by then.

Several groups are involved in this effort and there's an informal steering committee. We're trying to mobilize people for education and outreach.

The Warrant article must be filed by Jan 31st. In February, there will be a hearing with the select board, and meetings with other stakeholders. Outreach to town meeting members will come next. We'll be able to leverage material that Brookline has put together. We'll need lots of different volunteers, including precinct captains, someone to organize precinct captains, graphic design, media, press relations, research and messaging, event planning, and event management. Realize that every new gas hookup will emit carbon dioxide for the next 30--50 years.

Town Resilience Planning. The town is working on plans for climate adaptation. We expect the future to bring increased precipitation, warmer days, warmer winters, and sea level rise. FEMA and MEMA have approved our hazard mitigation plan. Arlington adopted its Hazard mitigation plan in 2012 and we're in the process of updating it. DPCD will present the new plan to the select board on Jan 27th.

Municipal vulnerability planning (MVP) determines a town's vulnerabilities and identifies specific risk areas to address. Flooding is a risk in the Mill Brook area. MVP work made Arlington eligible for a grant to mitigate flooding at Wellington Park. The Conservation Commission recently added regulations dealing with climate change; applicants must consider the effects of climate change during the permit process. We'll start updating our open space plan next year, and climate change will factor in to that effort.

Annual Town Survey. This year's town survey included a number of questions on resilience, and social and community ties. So far 87% of respondents expect to be affected by climate change, and 69% think it's very important to prepare for it. People feel well connected to their families, and somewhat connected to their neighborhoods. 87% would feel comfortable turning to neighbors for help and 74% would check in on neighbors.

We may do follow-up questions next year, pending the final results of this year's survey.

Ecofest. Ecofest will be held at town Hall on March 21st, from 10:00 - 14:00. The theme is community and climate resilience. There are many ways to think of resilience: community, neighborhoods, economic, social, etc. Resilience involves building connections within communities. We're looking for people to table: organizations, non-profits, and vendors.

Notices. There's a local environmental action conference on Saturday, March 7th, organized by the Massachusetts Climate Action Network. The conference focuses on local environmental activism. It will be held at Northeastern University's Campus. Sustainable Arlington votes to endorse the conference with at $70 sponsorship.

Plarn. Plarn is plastic used as yarn. You cut plastic bags into strips and used them to crochet something. One attendee showed us a plarn carrying bag, which was kind of cool. Plarn is also being used for public art on the Minuteman bikeway. There will be a plarning workshop at the Fox Library on Jan 25th, from 14:00--16:30.

New Business. On January 28th, MCAN will host a webinar called Affordable Housing as a Climate Solution. The heatsmart program ends on Jan 31st. The Belmont Library will host a fixit clinic on Feb 1st, and Arlington will hold one on May 3rd. Envision Arlington's steering Committee meets on Feb 12th at 7pm; Juli Brazile is stepping down as chair of the steering committee. Sustainable Middlesex will hold an event on Climate legislation in Winchester on Feb 29th.

Envision Arlington was formed in the 1990's and was originally called Vision 2020. The group developed a set of nine goals for the town. The standing committee organizes major events, and there are task groups related to each of the nine goals. It's important to have a good standing committee chair.

There's a calendar of events on http://sustainablearlington.org.