Today, I had the pleasure of participating as a guest at the Environmental Law & Policy Forum’s Annual Symposium at the Duke University School of Law. The panel which I was a part of addressed the issues of what roles buildings, landscape design and urban infrastructure play in sustainable urban development; as well as if law and policy tools can help build urban environments that are both efficient and equitable. The other guests that were a part of this panel were Kofi Boone, Dept. of Landscape Architecture, North Carolina State University, Dr. Timothy Johnson, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Dr. Danielle Spurlock, Department of City & Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During my remarks, I spoke of the work which I had led in establishing a Legislative Study Commission on Urban Growth and Infrastructure. I established and was a Co-Chair of this legislative study commission which led to legislation that created the NC Sustainable Communities Task Force. This task force brought together planning directors from Winston Salem, Charlotte, Raleigh, as well as members of the Councils of Government and State Department Heads from our State’s Commerce Department, Environment and Natural Resources Department, Transportation Department, Health and Human Services Department, as well we the NC House and Finance Agency, among others. We provided over $500,000 to support sustainable development and planning for local governments, and we were successful in attracting $3.2 million dollars in federal funds for this purpose. It was a great project for which NC received high recognition, and I actually received several awards for my leadership with these initiatives. Unfortunately, the Republican majority repealed the legislation which created this project after it had been in operation for only a two-year period of time.