The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed legislation establishing a Sustainable Communities Task Force within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. North Carolina is now the latest state to recognize the connections between cross-agency governance at the state level, coordination with stakeholders at the local level, and sustainable communities on the ground.
With $250,000 in state funding and six guiding principles that reflect the federal Sustainable Communities Partnership, the 13-member task force is charged with:
- Promoting regional sustainability partnerships
- Providing technical assistance to state agencies, local government, regional collaborations, and nonprofits
- Indentifying and pursuing sustainable development funding
- Making recommendations for sustainable development policies and program appropriations to Governor Bev Perdue, members of her cabinet, and the General Assembly
- Distributing task force grants to regional sustainable development partnerships
- Developing a common local government sustainable practices scoring system
- Pursuing opportunities for coordination among state agencies and reduced overlap in the responsibilities of regional entities
Task force membership makes the connection between land use patterns and a range of community challenges. Members include appointees from the North Carolina Departments of Commerce, Environment and Natural Resources, Transportation, Administration, Health and Human Services, and the Housing Finance Agency, as well as representatives from the North Carolina American Planning Association, county government, city government, a regional collaborative organization, a sustainability nonprofit, the building industry, and the banking industry.
State Senator Floyd B. McKissick, Jr. and State Representative Jennifer Weiss sponsored this legislation, which is based upon the work of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Legislative Study Commission on Urban Growth and Infrastructure Issues. The Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a sister program of the Initiative for Sustainable Communities and States, hosted an April workshop with state, legislative, and local leaders which covered this legislation (in development at the time) and related North Carolina sustainability challenges.
As one of the fastest growing states in the country, North Carolina faces tremendous development needs. This task force leverages federal and state sustainability leadership to meet those needs through smart, sustainable development.
The Sustainable Communities Task Force legislation can be seen on pages 112-116 of S. 897, available here.