Linwood is considering accepting a grant that would require ordinance revisions to include green development in the city.
An opportunity for public input for the newly termed “Sustainable Linwood” initiative will be a regular planning board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in Linwood City Hall.
Along with $4,500 through a matching grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission, the city would be required to fund the project with $4,500 of its own funds.
The city’s Environmental Commission was able to secure the grant for the city. The Planning Board met Monday to discuss what work is required if the grant is accepted, and what the effects of mandatory green building codes could be on future building in the city.
As of now, the board is waiting on public input to help determine the guidelines and changes to current ordinances.
Linwood is four square miles and is more than 95 percent built-out, according to city officials.
Despite being almost entirely developed, the city is still faced with challenges regarding stormwater management, open space, and development impacts, the Planning Board said Monday. And even if there is an interest in green practices, the city does not currently have a way to implement standards.
City Council adopted a voluntary green code in May 2011, which used public buildings to set a precedent of green codes within the city.
The city’s goal, according to the 2011 resolution, is to implement audits and upgrades to municipal buildings, a goal that is becoming more and more common across towns in the region, according to local architect, Todd Miller, owner of QMA Build + Design.
One concern with the new initiative, voiced by Councilman Tim Tighe, is that it would require a significant investment from the city.
In addition to requiring a match of $4,500, the time to review each and every ordinance in the city as well as redesign them may not be worth the effort, he said.
Tighe said last month that he would not support spending money, especially in this economy, to create obstacles for commercial ventures.
Linwood is one of few South Jersey cities that have received Sustainable Jersey certification, indicating it is already engaged in a significant number of environmentally friendly practices. By including green standards in city ordinances, the city’s rating with the program would increase as well.
Solar energy is big in Linwood, city officials said.
Mainland Regional High School recently installed a solar farm on its roofs, Miller said, but there are other options to being energy efficient without changing the appearance of building.
The meeting Monday reviewed ideas from a September meeting to implement and enforce the standards, including a scorecard, submitted by each new building applicant to determine the amount of sustainable practices used.
The list of items that would be reviewed include green roofs, alternate energy, more stringent recycling, water conservation and walls that are painted or made from materials that support conserving energy.
With regard to green roofs, the commission discussed in a September meeting that old roofs could be retrofitted to green design or even used as rooftop gardens.
In addition, a focus is being put on improved drainage and buffers, especially near commercial properties.
The ordinances will address clear-cutting and improved buffers, Tighe said.
The additional ordinances, if created and approved, would affect new properties and any future home improvement projects, Tighe said.
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