Monday, February 19, 2007

Cause now I'm going in the right direction...

County Executive Ken Ulman today signaled his desire to make the environment a major focus of his new administration. At the Howard County Conservancy's Gudelsky Environmental Center, he signed an Executive Order establishing a commission on the environment and sustainability, as well as the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. In his statement, he made clear that he wants Howard County to become a leader in sustainability, with the new commission created specifically to recommend policies and programs to achieve this goal. Being the first county leader to sign the mayors agreement is certainly a step in the right direction.


FreeMarket said...

This is good news for the County and the planet. You should have named this post after a RRFB song :-)

Anonymous said...

If Ken Ulman really cares about the environment, he will take steps to remove the plastic real estate development signs that are plastered all over Western Howard County. There are more than a few of those signs rotting in the streams.

So far, the County hasn't done anything about it -- except allow the developers to litter and contaminate the environment.

Is there a phone number to call to get action from the County? Calls to sanitation, the County line and the County Executives' office have all gone unreturned.

numbers.girl said...

Those signs, if in the right of way of either the county or the state, come under their control. Try calling State Highway Admin or County Highways. Chances are, though, that their staff is already busy and not likely to prioritize sign-pulling. I know for sure that they do pull, if they are in the area. There is also a state highway guy that drives around on Saturdays pulling up the signs.

I think your energy is better spent calling the companies placing the signs. They are ultimately responsible, right? Call the developers repeatedly, and have your like-minded friends do the same. Burdening already over-worked highway crews, only to have the developer re-post the signs the next day is a waste of taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

It is their RIGHT to post the signs under County law. Look it up. You take those signs down, you violate the law.

Anonymous said...

This is good news. I hope a link to a page that charts our progress appears on the front page of the County web site.

The highlights of what was agreed to be done at the County level:
We will strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution by taking actions in our own operations and communities such as:
1. Inventory global warming emissions in City operations and in the community, set reduction targets and create an action plan.
2. Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities;
3. Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and public transit;
4. Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, for example, investing in �green tags�, advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, recovering landfill methane for energy production, and supporting the use of waste to energy technology;
5. Make energy efficiency a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting and urging employees to conserve energy and save money;
6. Purchase only Energy Star equipment and appliances for City use;
7. Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program or a similar system;
8. Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles; reduce the number of vehicles; launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages; convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;
9. Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems; recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production;
10. Increase recycling rates in City operations and in the community;
11. Maintain healthy urban forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and to absorb CO2; and
12. Help educate the public, schools, other jurisdictions, professional associations, business and industry about reducing global warming pollution.

I look forward to a County web page that details:
- the current status for each of those twelve items,
- our goals and timelines for each,
- and the ongoing progress we're making in each of those items.

My guess is by going green we'll be saving a lot of green, too.

numbers.girl said...

Anon 922- wrong. Only to the extent such signs are temporary are they permitted. As in for an open house. Look it up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks numbers.girl

I think I'm just going to take the signs down myself.

Anonymous said...

Real estate developers are ALLOWED to post signs. They have an exemption from the sign ordinance. You touch the signs and you'll have trouble.

numbers.girl said...

Anon- are you a real estate developer?

You told me to look at the law, I looked at the law. If you can provide a link to the supposed exemption, I'd love to see it.

"You'll have trouble?" Tell that to the state of maryland, who removes the signs weekly.

numbers.girl said...

Anon- here, this is the "exemption" to which you refer. Please note that it in no way infers the type of power you imply. Please note also the “temporary” definition.

Section. 3.503. Exemptions.
The following types of signs are exempt from all the provisions of this subtitle, except for
construction and safety regulations and the following standards:

Real estate signs.
Signs on private property. Temporary real estate signs not
exceeding six square feet in area located on the subject property
and limited to one such sign for each frontage of a home, lot,
parcel or tract under two acres in area. Signs shall be removed
within seven days of the sale.
Signs on approach routes. Temporary real estate directional
signs, not exceeding three square feet in area and four in number,
showing a directional arrow and placed back on the property line,
shall be permitted on approach routes to an open house. These
directional signs announcing an open house may be placed in the
county right-of-way between the hours of 4:00 p.m. Friday and
noon on the following Monday. When a holiday occurs on
Monday or Friday, the hours in which these signs may be placed
in the county right-of-way shall be extended by 24 hours to
include the holiday. A police officer may remove these signs if,
in the opinion of the police officer, the signs so placed constitute
a hazard to traffic.
Height of real estate signs. The top of any temporary real estate
signs shall not exceed three feet in height, except crossbar post
signs located on the property, the crossbar of which shall be
limited to no higher than five feet above the ground.

Section 3.505A. Permitted signs in county rights-of-way.
Signs Not Requiring Prior Approval (Signs in Rights-of-Way). The following signs
shall be allowed in the county rights-of-way without prior approval or permit:
Temporary real estate directional signs as specified in Section 3.503(e).
Signs Requiring Prior Approval (Signs in Rights-of-Way). The following signs shall
be allowed in county rights-of-way provided that the sign is approved by the
Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits and that the Director of Inspections,
Licenses and Permits issues a revocable permit conditioned upon removal of the sign
upon the county’s request, at no cost to the county:
Identification signs for a community, development, or subdivision project as set forth in Section
Identification signs for residential apartment complexes and condominiums as set forth in
Section 3.501(b)(3);
Temporary subdivision directional signs as specified in Section 3.502(b)(3); and
Temporary signs announcing public, charitable, educational, or religious events as set forth in
Section 3.503(b).

Anonymous said...

Sweet - I have printed that ordinance section out and will use it to remove the signs I see all over Tridelphia Road.

They are NOT temporary, as they have been there for weeks. With the snow, many of them have fallen over.

I still remain disappointed with the County, as you would think constituent services would mandate a call back within 1 week. It has been over a week without any such return call.

When I lived in Montgomery County, I got return calls within 1 business day.

In DC, you are guaranteed a call back within 48 hours. I can't believe that somehow DC trumps Ho Co on that.

Anonymous said...


OK seriously, I'm as annoyed as the next person by those signs but truthfully litter isn't exactly the most pressing environmental issue we face. Every single one of those signs could end up in the Bay and it wouldn't do anywhere near the damage a bunch of muddy water does.

Not that this conversation hasn't been kind of interresting, but I'm just saying that if this commission wastes any time talking about some chronic littering problems over any of the couple dozen serious environmental threats to our area, I for one am going to be sorely dissapointed

numbers.girl said...

I still think your time is better spent calling the developer. The reason they are willing to post the signs at risk of fine is because they work. Consider it cost of advertising. If they know that they are pissing off potential customers, maybe they will try a different approach. Just a thought.

Other anon- litter is a huge problem. Just drive down Snowden Pkwy and see the piles of crap on the side of the road. You may not think it makes a big impact, but it is indicative that our society, on the whole, just doesn't give a crap about the environment. If people can't be bothered to take a can to the recycle bin, or their McD's wrapper to the trash, why would they show interest in anything on a larger scale? It's a lack of respect for anything but themselves.

Anonymous said...

I agree with numbers girl. People who litter on a small scale are the same people who feel no obligation to protect the environment on a larger scale.

Anonymous said...

I'm not arguing that litter isn't a problem or even that its not indicative of larger problems with humanity. My point, really, is that in the large scheme of all this commission should be talking about - global warming, energy use, open space preservation, storm water management, nutrient pollution, chemical use, car use (I think/hope you get the point) litter and associated visual pollution (like signs for new developments) belong much further down the list.

Anonymous said...

Howard County is a drop in the bucket - even if the entire US adopted this plan to combat global climate change, it will not offset the increased emissions from developing countries like China and India. Many scientists think we are already too late...

It is well established that people won't respect the environment unless it looks visually appealing. I agree that ditching the signs would be a much needed positive contribution.

Anonymous said...

I counted 60+ permanent real estate development signs on Route 32 from I-70 to Route 29. I lost count around Clarksville. They are an abomination.

Anonymous said...

This is a gimmick by someone looking to log a quick accomplishment.

Even if all Kyoto measures are implemented by all countries, carbon emissions will increase by 30 percent based on increased demand for energy. Better than a 50 percent increase, but still...

We are not prepared to make the sacrifices we need to make if we truly believed that global climate change is the threat some people say it is.

Better land use policies and increased park land would be a better strategy, but the real estate developers have near total control of the process.