Minnesota GreenStep’s Real Agenda Part 1

January 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm 3 comments

By Andrew Richter

Well, despite the fact our group helped defeat Crystal’s entry into the Minnesota Green Step Program, I still feel the need to defend our position and explain the problems we see with this.

One of my goals is to get people focused on the entire program. It is interesting that the proponents of this program only talk about one aspect; changing out light bulbs and how much money we supposedly save in doing so (even though the cost of government never seems to go down). But this program is not just about changing out lights. There are many aspects to their 28 best practices.

GreenStep Program’s Best practices

You see that only five of their best practices are about building and lighting, the other 23 do not. Today I want to focus Best Practice number 7 (efficient city growth).

Here is the Green Step goal;

Promote financial and environmental sustainability by enabling and encouraging higher density housing and commercial land use.

So just like every other form of government, they want to get us out of our independent family homes and shove us together on smaller plots of land. Does that increase or decrease our freedom?

The following “tips” offered by Green Step is based on the Five D’s identified  by the unconstitutional and unelected Met Council;

Changes in the density of selected zoning districts are best paired with changes in four other urban design elements to effect the greatest benefits, such as decreasing vehicle miles traveled. These elements – the “5 Ds” addressed in other GreenStep best practices and modeled for effectiveness (elasticity) by the Metropolitan Council in 2010 – are:

  • Density
  • Design (of streets, buildings, block size)
  • Diversity (of land uses)
  • Destination Accessibility
  • Distance-to-Transit

Notice none of these things have anything to do with changing out light bulbs.

Here are their “tips” to implement;

Limit barriers to higher density housing by including in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map:

a.  Neighborhood single-family density at seven units per net acre or greater.
b.  Multi-family housing at a gross density of at least 15 units per acre adjacent to a commercial zoning district or transit node.

Adjacent to transit? That sounds like transit oriented development doesn’t it?

Encourage higher density housing through at least two of the following strategies:

a.  Incorporate a flexible lot size/frontage requirement for infill development.
b.  Use density and floor area ratio (FAR) bonuses in selected residential zoning districts.
c.  Tie a regulatory standard to comprehensive plan language defining compact city expansion zones that limit low-density development.
d.  Allowing accessory dwelling units or co-housing by right in selected zoning districts

So they want to set a floor area ration and tie it to the Comprehensive Plan (which is approved by the Met Council by the way).

Encourage a higher intensity of commercial land uses through at least one of the following strategies:

a.  Include in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map a commercial district with reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks, or a FAR minimum between .75 and 1.
b.  Set targets for the minimum number of employees/acre in different commercial zones.

So here they want to reduce lot sizes and set a minimum numbers of employees in an area? Talk abotu bg government.

Here is the kicker;

Modify the city zoning ordinance and zoning map to allow, without variance or rezoning in at least one district, developments that meet the prerequisites for LEED for Neighborhood Development certification.

Now what is LEED? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) which created a rating system for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods.

It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council which is an NGO (non-government organization) that is tied to the World Green Building Council. It is an attempt to get local governments to abide by international standards.

Now, you may say to yourself; what’s wrong with this? What’s wrong is that bureaucrats on some world council who have never set foot in our cities, or probably our state, or perhaps even our country are setting standards that we have to live by.

So to sum it up, what is the agenda behind this “best practice?” The agenda is to get us into high-density housing, force us on to mass transit with TOD, and get us out of our cars as much as possible. The hell with the free market or personal liberty.


Entry filed under: Agenda 21, City Government, Crystal, Environment.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Libby  |  February 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I honestly don’t understand how GreenStep “forces” anything since joining the program is voluntary at the city level and there is nothing binding about it.

    Most of our local building codes are actually international codes. But should the city of Crystal decide it wants to waste taxpayer money establishing and maintaining up-to-date, modern building codes, nothing stops us from doing that. Except maybe for cases where State law takes precedence.

    By avoiding transit-oriented, multi-modal development, you aren’t going to make Crystal some oasis of freedom within a totalitarian metro area, you are just cutting us off from the benefits of living in a thriving metro area. Or at least making sure that only citizens who happen to be 100% able-bodied and wealthy enough to buy, maintain, and insure cars get to be full participants in our society.

  • 2. Rikta11  |  February 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    It’s funny listening to proponents of this try to claim that I want to “waste money establishing and maintaining up-to-date, modern building codes”. How about all the money spent on mass transit, light rail, buses, re-striping roads, building regional trails, building sidewalks, and erecting high-density housing! Why don’t you complain about that??

  • 3. Michael C. Libby  |  February 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    So do you oppose the existence of MN Dot and how they run all these highways through our cities? How about County Roads? How about interstate freeways running through the middle of town? Shouldn’t all those roads be built and maintained by cities? Because that’s exactly what you’re arguing should happen with transit.


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