Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Sunday, March 7, 2010

East meets West

When I lived in rural Maine in the 70’s, land use planners were considered to be “communists”. Mainers, like most of us, don’t like being told what to do. Unlike in the now gone Soviet Union, most of us have come to realize the benefits of good planning.

The City of Sanibel was formed in 1975, about the same time the “commies” were conspiring to deprive Mainers of the use of their land. Sanibel residents fought back against not "commies" but lax county development standards to protect Sanibel from overdevelopment and a potential rapid unsustainable population growth by establishing the Sanibel Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 1974. This was done to help maintain a balance between development and preservation of the island's ecology. On a national level, this was a major initiative and a progressive step in land use planning. Now, in 2010, there is little doubt that Sanibel is a better place because of the CLUP.

There was another place in the US going through similar changes, Boulder, CO. If you thought there were “commies” in running amuck in the woods of Maine, you obviously hadn’t been to Boulder. In 1978, Boulder adopted its own land use plan (BCCP). This was developed "to respond to the widely accepted principle that the myriad of future land use decisions affecting the county’s lands should be made in a coordinated and responsible manner." It implemented such things as channeling growth to the municipalities, protecting agricultural lands, and the preservation of the environmental and natural resources being a high priority in making land use decisions. Sounds like Sanibel to me.

So Sanibel had a sister community out west. Sanibel is a special and great place to live and visit, as is Boulder. Now thirty years later or so, Boulder has changed and adjusted to the times, Sanibel not so much.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or one of those people who think we all will be after the government has its way, most realize the importance of implementing sustainable and efficient planning and technologies into our homes and communities to lessen our dependence on foreign resources and generally make where we live a better place. Call it “green” or whatever, we all know what it is in concept.

In November 2008, Boulder implemented a mandatory “Green Building and Green Points Program”. This requires all commercial and residential construction to conform to increased energy efficiency standards. All buildings must follow a “Green Building and Green Points” program. You can view the required document at: .

Essentially, this requires all homes and building to meet certain HERS ratings, based on size, and to attain a certain number of points from a variety of site development, building technology and design areas. The scoring template Boulder uses is reminiscent of a simplified Leeds program, Florida Green Building Coalition standards and others (there are many). Most of the scoring items “make sense” and many of the possible points are things that Sanibel already mandates such things as the use of native vegetation, irrigation standards, recycling, etc.

Is this the time for Sanibel and other local communities to become leaders and raise the bar? I believe so.

Jeff Good
Benchmark General Contractors, Inc.

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