Just in time for Earth Day, Talk of the Sound has reviewed the Local Agenda 21 plan for New Rochelle, NY created under an ICLEI program first announced in 2009 and analyzed changes to the document made after the New Rochelle City Council voted to adopt the plan in 2011. Earth Day falls each year on April 22nd. It is the two-year anniversary of the release of the original GreeNR plan.
GreeNR Side by Side Analysis (39 MB PDF)
Talk of the Sound conducted a similar analysis when GreeNR was released in 2010 and many of the concerns we raised were raised at Council. In some cases, items we identified -- requiring homeowners to pay to upgrade the lateral lines from their house to the City sewer system when selling their home, displaying private information from Con Edison on electricity usage -- were removed from the revised GreeNR plan. Others however, such as the GreeNR Seal and the "Green Lien" programs, remain.
The linked document provides a side by side analysis of the document as presented to the City Council in April 2010 and the document created on March 17, 2012. The two documents contain insertions and deletions of images, section dividers and other cosmetic changes that make a side by side comparison difficult. Talk of the Sound inserted blank pages or removed cosmetic pages so that the content pages matched up and could be run through the software to identify changes. The mark up key uses yellow highlights, red rectangles and red ovals: sections, sentences or words "of interest" are highlighted in yellow; changes between the two documents are marked with a red rectangle; sections, sentences or words that suggest mandates are marked with a red oval.
Although certain sections have been updated to reflect data from 2010 to 2009 or 2011 to 2010, the title is not updated. The title is "New Rochelle Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2030" but the plan was not adopted until 2011. Title should read "New Rochelle Sustainability Plan 2011 - 2031". Which data was updated in the document is inconsistent and appears to be random.
During the Public Hearing on GreeNR in 2010, New Rochelle Sustainability Coordinator Deborah Newborn stated that GreeNR contained recommendations for mandates. When she was asked about mandates during City Council meetings she said there were no recommendations for mandates. In fact, there are recommendations for mandates and, in one case, according to the updated GreeNR document, Residential Recycling the City has already moved on from voluntarily recycling to mandatory recycling; the plan states that the City may now issue summonses. In another example, there is now a mandate on idling and summonses can be issued. There are other mandates regarding building codes. According to Newborn, the overall intent of GreeNR is to try the voluntary compliance route first and then move to mandatory mandatory if the voluntary route fails which is another way of saying the plan contains "mandates" even though she and the Mayor later claimed there were no mandates in the plan.