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Natural & Environmental Resources Goal 1

The integrity and quality of land, water, air and other natural resources will be protected from negative impacts to preserve the overall environmental health of the community.

1.1 Incentivize Green Building Techniques

STRATEGY: Provide development incentives for projects that use LEED certified or similar low impact / energy efficient design, construction and development techniques.

JUSTIFICATION: Providing incentives for the use of “green” building techniques, such as reducing water and sewer impact fees, allowing higher density or intensity development, or similar incentives, can help a community reduce its environmental footprint. This is achieved through the construction techniques which seek to limit water and energy usage and by utilizing techniques that reduce stormwater runoff and preserve existing vegetation. Making these incentives available can also have the effect of attracting more developers and homebuilders to a community, thereby increasing development interest from the “green” building sector of the overall development industry, which can in turn lead to a higher proportional share of new development adhering to these techniques.

1.2 Implement the Tree Canopy Plan

STRATEGY: Implement the recommendations of the Jefferson County Urban Tree Canopy Plan.

JUSTIFICATION: The Jefferson County Urban Tree Canopy Plan establishes a reasonably attainable goal for the preservation of trees in the corporate limits of Shepherdstown, while also promoting an increase in the percentage of the community covered by mature tree canopy. A healthy tree canopy provides a wide range of benefits within an urban environment, including diffusing the effects of night lighting, removing carbon dioxide from the air, providing shade to cool pavement and other surfaces that tend to retain heat, and contributing to the aesthetic quality of the built environment.

1.3 Promote Alternative Forms of Transportation

STRATEGY: Encourage residents of Shepherdstown to use non-vehicular transportation whenever possible to reduce air quality impacts.

JUSTIFICATION: Although many of Shepherdstown’s residents are actively engaged in walking and biking as a form of green transportation, an opportunity exists to encourage a much larger share of the population to utilize walking and biking as alternative means of transportation to the automobile. Reducing vehicular trips through the promotion of walking and biking transportation choices, can improve the health of the community, expand social interaction in public spaces, reduce air pollution and energy usage, as well as reducing parking demand where limited supply exists.

1.4 Promote Land Preservation Efforts

STRATEGY: Partner with local conservation organizations to promote the permanent protection of working farms, forests, wildlife habitat and other open spaces.

JUSTIFICATION: By working with local partners to preserve critical lands, the town can help to conserve these limited resources, thereby directing development away from rural and agricultural landscapes and toward areas that are more suited for development. Developing such partnerships can also support the creation of parks, greenways and other publically accesible open spaces as part of land conservation efforts.

1.5 Develop Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

STRATEGY: Explore opportunities to install electric vehicle charging stations adjacent to public on-street parking spaces or in town owned parking lots. Encourage private property owners to do the same.

JUSTIFICATION: Providing electric vehicle charging stations in publically accessible locations in town will help to demonstrate the community’s commitment to supporting alternative fueled vehicle use, and make the town a known destination for tourists visiting the local area who drive these vehicles. Stations could charge a small premium over the basic cost of electricity to help generate additional revenue for the town, and potentially allow for free parking in an otherwise metered space while in use. If no suitable locations are available adjacent to on-street spaces, then the town could explore options for using existing off-street public parking areas or perhaps partner with Shepherd University to install stations in their parking lots that are located conveniently to downtown. A partnership to provide this service could serve the needs of both the town and university, particularly if both entities invested in electric vehicles, thereby also providing overnight charging facilities for their vehicles while a number of the spaces were made available to the public during the day.

1.6 Divert Food Waste from Landfills

STRATEGY: Develop a program for the collection of food waste, from both residential and commercial sources, for composting so that the waste is diverted from the general solid waste stream.

JUSTIFICATION: Food waste, which is a compostable material, has become a major target of waste reduction efforts in many communities in recent years, with a focus on both commercial and residential sources of waste. This material, which generally has a high water content, can significantly add to a community’s waste disposal costs due to the weight and bulk of the material. As a compostable material, its diversion from the municipal solid waste stream into a composting landfill can actually save money and provide a community benefit over time. A voluntary program aimed at commercial and residential waste generators can help to build interest in a program and lead to an eventual mandatory diversion of this type of waste from local landfills. With a large food waste generator in the community (Shepherd University) the necessary economies of scale may be in place to make this a cost-effective alternative for the community.

1.7 Oppose Environmentally Damaging Industrial Development

STRATEGY: Oppose the construction or development of any heavy industrial or intense resource extraction ventures in the area, and ensure that the Town’s land use ordinances do not allow uses which negatively impact environmental resources.

JUSTIFICATION: Maintaining the environmental quality found in the local area is critical to preserving the character of the greater Shepherdstown area. Large scale industries, particularly those that generate off-site impacts, such as air pollution, heavy truck traffic, or discharge industrial wastewater, would have both a negative environmental effect and a negative impact of the character of the community, Working to ensure that such industries are properly sited, in locations closer to larger urban areas and in closer proximity to major highway routes by opposing zoning changes or incentives that would facilitate their development in the local area I critical to maintaining both the character of the community and its high quality of life.

1.8 Develop Pervious Pavement Requirements

STRATEGY: Explore options for requiring the use of pervious pavement or similar materials in off-street parking areas for both residential and nonresidential uses to reduce stormwater runoff.

JUSTIFICATION: The use of pervious pavement, which allows for stormwater infiltration while also providing a suitable parking surface, can help to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality outcomes. While not necessarily suitable for large scale use on a parking area of a significant size, pervious pavement installations in areas close to sensitive environmental features, along the edges of parking lots, or on small lots, or around landscaping areas can provide an effective method of mitigating stormwater impacts. Most typically, pervious pavement is required by ordinances for installation in parking lots exceeding a certain size threshold, or for spaces exceeding a percentage of the minimum parking requirement. And while typically applied only to nonresidential development, these materials and techniques are equally effective for individual residential driveways and parking pads where it is compatible with Historic District design guidelines.

1.9 Develop a Watershed Management Plan for Town Run

STRATEGY: Develop and implement a plan, in cooperation with Jefferson County, for the management of the Town Run Watershed that is focused on both restoring water quality and ensuring that new development does not negatively impact the health of the stream.

JUSTIFICATION: With its prominent course through town, Town Run is a significant feature in both the urban and rural landscape, and since it drains directly into the Potomac River, maintaining the quality of the water in the stream is important to ensuring the health of the local stretch of the river. Managing the watershed through a plan jointly developed and adopted by both the county and the town would help to ensure that local and regional water quality and other environmental goals are met. Such a plan should address allowed development density, impervious surface limitations, preferred stormwater management techniques, land conservation and set goals for total maximum daily loads (TMDL) for pollutants and suspended solids to ensure that all aspects of watershed management are covered.

1.10 Promote Rainwater Harvesting for Irrigation

STRATEGY: Develop and promote a rainwater harvesting program for residential and commercial properties in town for use in landscape irrigation.

JUSTIFICATION: Capturing rainwater from the roofs of residential and commercial structures can provide a significant source of water for irrigating lawns and landscaping. Capturing and storing stormwater on site also has the added benefits of reducing the amount of off-site runoff and can reduce the amount of potable water from the domestic water supply that is used for outdoor purposes.