Members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners seemed pretty pleased Monday with the report from the Sustainability Task Force. That is until Chair Paul Coble recommended that along with their endorsement, members should create a personal property rights council to make sure the recommendations don’t infringe on anyone’s rights.
“Given the choice between collectivism and individualism, we’d far rather err on the side of the Constitution and personal property rights before we err on the side of collectivism,” Coble said.
The suggestion garnered applause from an unusually large audience for an afternoon work session, leading Commissioner Betty Lou Ward to ask if Coble filled the room with his supporters. Coble, a Republican, is running for the13th district congressional seat now held by Democrat Brad Miller.
Commissioner Phil Matthews showed his support for Coble’s recommendation, saying that other municipalities have been adopting standards that will be discussed during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
He said that commissions need to do what’s best for the county and its residents, “Not having a worldwide agenda coming down here and telling what we need to do and stomp on people’s rights.”
Commissioner Ervin Portman said the recommendation is based on a conspiracy theory that isn’t based in fact.
“I would ask Commissioner Matthews to tell me what specific sections of this report you find are contrary to the Constitution,” he said. “Give me anything.”
Portman said he was in favor of personal property rights, but called the council a “cockamamie” idea.
“I don’t know what it has to do with the Sustainability Task Force!” he said.
Commissioner Tony Gurley said he was in agreement with starting the council. He added there is nothing wrong with having an advisory group look at proposed rulings so that details don’t slip by unnoticed.
“Do you actually think people are trying to slide something by you?” Ward asked, telling him if that was the case, he should be speaking up.
The Sustainability Task Force was created in 2009 and appointed by the commission. The group’s report outlined more than 60 recommendations that would help the county continue to meet its sustainability goals.
County officials have already made changes that have had an environmental and financial benefit. Officials called most of the changes common sense, like installing low-flow toilets, using energy-efficient light bulbs and using durable building materials for new construction projects.
Staff said that many of the county’s new buildings meet most of LEED certification requirements, but have not gone through the formal application process.
Some of the recommendations include:
- Energy audits for county and public school facilities
- Attract energy-related technology companies to Wake County
- Remove impediments to voluntary implementation of water efficiency, water conservation and water reclamation/reuse
- Divert high-volume waste materials from landfills
- Generate power from methane gas produced at landfills
- Investigate next generation waste management systems
Commissioners will vote whether to endorse the recommendations during their next meeting Feb. 20.