Plymouth Steps Back From Controversial GreenStep City Program
“I believe that our elected officials should make decisions on each program or change in programs. Having an all encompassing agreement like green steps removes local control and flexibility,” wrote Rolf Erickson.
It was supposed to be a done deal. The resolution to make Plymouth Minnesota’s newest “GreenStep City” was slipped into the city council’s consent agenda, clearing the way for expected approval by voice vote without discussion, along with no-brainer items like a temporary liquor license for the Lions “Live at the Hilde” event and minutes from the previous meeting.
After all, the staff pitched it as a free, feel-good “continuous improvement framework” for the thriving suburb.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Twin Cities suburb becoming the latest domino in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s “voluntary” plan to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint and make environmental sustainability the linchpin of city policy-making.
City Hall began hearing from residents who’d done their homework, including these emails included in the city council information packet.
The city council also got an earful from several residents who made their case in person at the June 25 meeting designated for the program’s approval.
In fact, the program includes more than two dozen so-called Best Management Practices with 175 different actions and lots of paperwork for participating local governments. Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience No. 29, for example, ties city policies and spending into the Metropolitan Council’s comprehensive plan required of municipalities.
After the citizens stepped up, the mayor and city council stepped back. The GreenStep City resolution was not put to a vote.
Other city councilors were also clearly rattled by the implications for Plymouth’s autonomy, future and the policy strings attached to GreenStep grants.
Some 124 Minnesota cities have become GreenStep Cities since the program’s inception in 2010. But the number of new participants has slowed markedly with six new cities joining in 2018 and just two in 2019 given the stunning rebuke from Plymouth.