Two weeks after pledging to join more than 30 communities in the Central Ohio Green Pact, Pickerington City Council last week voted against supporting the environmental initiative.

Two weeks after pledging to join more than 30 communities in the Central Ohio Green Pact, Pickerington City Council last week voted against supporting the environmental initiative.

On Oct. 18, council rejected a resolution to support the Central Ohio Green Pact by a vote of 3-4.

The action came after council on Oct. 4 voted 5-2 in favor of joining the pact.

Because of recent changes to the city’s charter, resolutions must be passed twice to be enacted, so the city did not officially join the green pact as reported in the Oct. 13 edition of ThisWeek Pickerington.

Although this pact is not legally binding, it would have committed Pickerington to pursuing initiatives that “will have a positive impact on the environment,” as well as “protecting and preserving local natural resources.”

This time, council members Cristie Hammond and Brian Wisniewki reversed course and voted against the resolution, after initially supporting the measure. On Oct. 18, they sided with council President Brian Sauer and Councilman Gavin Blair, who originally opposed supporting the pact.

“We have made progress in furthering the green initiative without having a pact,” Wisniewski said.

Hammond said she didn’t want to join a pact that could in the future force the city to allocate dollars to environmentally friendly practices or equipment.

“I do not think I can support something that obligates us to spend money on things we can’t afford,” Hammond said.

The green pact was developed and signed in 2007 by Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and elected officials from 12 local communities. It was established to represent a multijurisdictional commitment to make central Ohio more sustainable, starting with policies that enhance and protect the quality of life, environment and economic vitality.

The pact outlines 10 general values communities should hold to preserve natural resources, increase green space, reduce consumption of raw materials and increase recycling. By joining the pact, members indicate their support and commitment to obtaining and maintaining more environmentally friendly vehicles and other equipment, adopting “sustainable land use policies,” building “green” facilities and reducing energy consumption and waste, as well as reducing local emissions, promoting mass transportation and educating residents about environmental issues and practices.

According to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s website, 33 central Ohio communities — including Violet Township — currently are pact members.

At least for the foreseeable future, Pickerington will not be the 34th member, despite some council support.

Council vice president Tony Barletta and council members Jeff Fix and Tricia Sanders each maintained support for the pact on Oct. 18, but they fell one vote short of joining the group.

“It doesn’t obligate us to spend a dime,” Fix said.

Sanders said she supports the measure because “in the year 2012, we need to show we are at least attempting to do things to be green.”

Barletta, who on Oct. 4 said joining the pact could help the city seek grants and drive economic development with environmentally minded businesses, last week said the city is sending the wrong message by rejecting the resolution.

“I don’t see that this hurts anything,” Barletta said of the Central Ohio Green Pact. “I don’t think (rejecting the resolution) is a way we want to set ourselves apart from other communities.”

In the end, however, members such as Sauer, who on Oct. 4 said he couldn’t support the pact in part because it states, “The science supporting climate change caused by human activities is well established,” won out.

“If it’s nonbinding, I don’t see why we would support it,” Sauer said. “The fear I have is someone’s going to come down the road five, 10 years from now and say, ‘You signed on to this, you agreed to it, why aren’t you doing it?’”

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