Frisco gets progress report on sustainability initiatives, looks forward to new goals
FRISCO — Frisco officials received a comprehensive overview Tuesday of the progress they’ve achieved in meeting the town’s sustainability goals along with an update on work still to be done.
During the Frisco Town Council meeting, officials heard presentations from representatives with the High Country Conservation Center, as well as the town’s environmental programs coordinator and town planner, to dive into a widespread discussion on where the town sits in regard to its environmental goals along with some potential policy changes that could help speed the town’s efforts in delivering sustainability initiatives.
The town has made considerable progress on its internal goals. Gilly Plog, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, provided the council with an update on progress being made from the 2019-20 Frisco Strategic Plan and the Town of Frisco Community Plan, highlighting that nearly all of the goals identified in the documents have already been completed or are underway.
“For the 2019-20 strategic plan, the council explicitly stated that environmental sustainability was a fundamental part of its vision for the town,” Plog said. “… I would like the council and public to know that there is active progress being made toward the community’s environmental goals across all town departments.”
Numerous milestones already have been completed from both plans, including major actions like the adoption of a 100% renewable energy electricity goal, the implementation of a disposable bag fee and streamlining the solar permit process, among many others.
Plog walked the council through ongoing goals and actions and provided an overview of the necessary next steps to create a more sustainable environment through net zero goals and stewardship.
Among some of the more notable actions in building toward net zero goals were continuing to reduce energy use at town facilities through energy benchmarking as well as combined heat and power screening to improve efficiency, entering into new partnerships with stakeholders like Xcel Energy to collaborate on energy action plans, developing better electric vehicle infrastructure and more.
With regard to stewardship, Plog pointed to new stormwater and forest management planning efforts that would ensure the town has specific standards around best practices for things like erosion control, wildfire mitigation, source water protection and other topics.
The Town Council was largely supportive of the work being done.
“For me, the return on investment on anything we do is that we’ll have snow falling in 20 years from now,” Mayor Hunter Mortensen said. “Sometimes the investment has to be made and not have a return that we’ll see. But others will see it, because they’ll still have what we all moved here for.”
Outside of what town employees have been able to handle on their own, the High Country Conservation Center also provided an update on the town’s performance through ongoing climate action partnerships like Energy Smart Colorado, the Resource Wise Business program and others.
Jess Hoover, climate action director with the High Country Conservation Center, also gave a preview of programs the center would be pushing in the near future to help local communities meet their goals, including continued outreach to businesses, the development of outdoor energy policies, new electric vehicle readiness planning and more.
“All of these initiatives are helping us to meet renewable energy goals and drive down carbon emissions,” Hoover said. “… You all deserve great credit for being an environmental leader in our community, and I think these goals really show it.”
Of note, town staff is already making progress in some of the areas discussed. Susan Lee, the town’s planner, provided the council with a list of proposed Unified Development Code updates that would assist the town in meeting their sustainability goals.
Lee broke down potential amendments into four sections including transportation, water efficiency and quality, waste diversion and solar readiness. Among the most notable proposed changes were providing new incentives for developers to encourage electric vehicle infrastructure and bicycle storage, requiring equal space for refuse and recycling in new developments, adjusting solar installation requirements and creating more localized control over any projects that would disturb wetlands in towns.
Council noted that any eventual changes to the code were still in the relatively early stages, requiring an update and review by the planning commission before eventually making their way back to the Town Council for final approval.
But officials are hopeful the changes that eventually appear in the code will provide an easier user experience for developers and better guidelines for sustainable building.
“These are some of the tools that we’re hopefully going to be able to implement to get us toward some of our sustainable goals,” Lee said. “Our intent is that these updates will bring better consistency to the sustainable building code update adopted in April and the land-use code.”
For more information about Frisco’s sustainability initiatives, check out Frisco’s most recent Town Council packet at FriscoGov.com/meeting/town-council-meeting-66.
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