Dear Board of Supervisors

Dear Supervisors,

I am writing this letter to express my support for sustainable development planning initiatives in our region.

Sustainable development, for me, boils down to wise investment in our community’s infrastructure: the systems that provide us food, water, energy, transportation, materials, communication, climate, biodiversity, knowledge, and waste disposal.  Sustainable development also increases our competitive advantage in a globalized economy.  It will create conditions that entice others to invest here.  Communities that do not plan for the future will decline over time.  I do not want us to wither; I want us to thrive. And that requires we invest in our future using sustainable development strategies.  Hopefully you will not be the Board that pushed us down the path of unsustainable development.

Without strategic, regional, sustainable development planning:

–       The education of our children will suffer and they will be less able to gain admission to college and compete in the global workforce.

–       Job opportunities will move away to other communities, and our children will be forced to follow them.

–       Roads, sewers, waterlines and other gray infrastructure will be uncoordinated with neighboring communities, expensive to maintain, and leading to nowhere.

–       Major shopping and employment opportunities will locate elsewhere, where infrastructure is better coordinated and maintained.

–       Our tax burden will increase to build and maintain water treatment and storm water management technologies because we will have neglected our green infrastructure’s natural capacity to perform these services.

–       The health of our families will decline as flooding, erosion, and pollution will increase and replenishment of our water supply will decrease.

–       Our regions’ natural capital—fertile soil, natural beauty, diverse wildlife, productive forests and farms, sources of local energy and materials—will erode.

–       Our call to steward God’s Creation will be neglected.

–       Our tax burden will increase to pay for building and maintaining a sprawling, piecemeal gray infrastructure rather than one leveraging existing development and maintenance capacities.

–       Poor gray and green infrastructure will make us unattractive to businesses and residents looking to relocate.

–       We will miss out on economic development opportunities because highly educated, high-wage workers, who are mobile and seek communities with high quality of life, will locate elsewhere.

Abandoning sustainable development may save us money in the short term, but it will cost us more in the future: we will be a penny wise but a pound foolish. Not pursuing sustainable development dooms us to a declining economy, a damaged infrastructure, out-migration of our children, and a greater tax burden.

In recent public meetings you have been asked by some members of our community to withdraw our county from regional sustainable development efforts because of vague and emotionally-charged assertions that sustainable development is a guise for socialism, communism, a United Nations take-over of private property rights, or an effort to force people off of their rural homesteads and into dense, urban, government-controlled housing.  Please do not get distracted by these statements, they are meant to grab attention rather than describe sustainable development.

But do pay attention to the deeper issues being debated. These issues are important and deserve your full attention.  Because the stakes are so high, so are the emotions.  We need serious and open discussions about how property values will change because of public investment in infrastructure projects. We need to ensure that property rights, personal freedoms, and community needs are carefully balanced.  We need you to make difficult but careful decisions about the path we take into the future.  We require your informed leadership.  And we need sustainable development.


Bruce Q Public

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Hull is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability
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