Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How You Can Become a Local Environmentalist

By the time a developer submits plans for a commercial or residential development, it is often too late to protect precious habitat or farmland. If there are large tracts of undeveloped land in your area, it is a good idea to find out what regulations or ordinances govern their development. Consider forests, stream and river habitats, open space, and other community assets.

Unless the community has already established environmental protection ordinances or if the land it protected by county, state, or federal regulations, once the property is zoned for a use, there is little in the larger scheme that can be done to protect habitat or other desirable community assets. The developer's planners and engineers generally design and make development decisions based upon the developer’s goals.

1. Contact your local planning and zoning or development department to review existing ordinances. Many municipalities have these regulations available online.

2. If you know of areas that are desirable for protection, find out what the process would be to change the local development codes or ordinances to protect them.

3. Find out what developments are being planned in your area. This may give you an idea of whether more is on the way.

4. Attend local board and committee meetings and find out about the development process.

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