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Holladay Journal

Action plan will guide sustainability efforts in three neighboring cities

Jul 08, 2021 12:22PM ● By Cassie Goff

Cottonwood Height’s priorities for sustainability surround open and green space. (Samantha DeSeelhorst/Cottonwood Heights)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights, Holladay and Millcreek will consider adoption of an Interlocal Sustainability Action Plan for the entire area. Associate Planner and Sustainability Analyst Samantha DeSeelhorst has been working on this collaborative document with a focus on sustainability efforts for the cities, businesses and communities. 

“The purpose of this plan is to coordinate sustainability efforts between the three cities and to clarify sustainability goals for community members,” DeSeelhorst said. 

Sustainability has been of importance for all three cities in varying capacities previously. “It was a natural collaboration for us to work together,” continued DeSeelhorst. “We have similar demographics and share the same regional amenities.” 

Since the master plan will be a guiding document for various communities, DeSeelhorst has considered topics of sustainability more broadly. The final document will be an umbrella action plan to be palpable for all cities incorporating the plan.

“Even though all three cities are really similar in location, geography and communities, their sustainability needs differ,” DeSeelhorst said, explaining how she asked each city to send a general list of their sustainability concerns. Holladay has a passion for tree preservation, Millcreek a passion for air and water quality, and Cottonwood Heights a passion for open space. (Interestingly, DeSeelhorst noted that these topics generally align with what each city is known for.) 

In working through this document, DeSeelhorst reported that there has been a good balance of voices. “Long serving councilmembers with history have been involved along with new members who are just joining.” 

DeSeelhorst has worked with staff members and elected officials from all three cities to create this document. After much editing and revision based on feedback, the plan has articulated a common direction for sustainability. 

“We put together a document that can remain consistent for each of the three cities through changes—since change happens all the time with new councilmembers, mayors and staff members,” DeSeelhorst explained. 

“I’m just so impressed,” said Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Peterson. “I remember two years ago when having a sustainability employee was just an idea. I’m pleased with the progress and the whole-team approach.”

The Interlocal Sustainability Action Plan is organized into five categories: development, energy use, landscaping, transportation and waste management. It identifies various strategies, policies, and construction techniques for sustainability efforts. It also provides support for sustainability initiatives and provides some roadmaps for such projects. 

For example, the landscaping section includes language for protecting and enhancing tree canopies, implementing xeriscape designs, and encouraging pollinator-friendly plant species. The transportation section includes language for reviewing anti-idling materials and conducting idling audits, considering electric or alternative city fleets, and supporting active transportation. The waste management section includes language for reducing paper waste and food waste, as well as for reuse and recycling initiatives.

Language has also been included related to: water conservation resources; site connections for walkability between all areas; supporting energy programs like the Community Renewable Energy Program; diversifying energy supplies; light pollution; requiring developers to include connections for sustainable amenities; encouraging energy saving projects with a community focus; and providing outreach to community members for efforts for their own homes.

Now, each city will pass a resolution in support of this master plan. After each city passes the resolution, the Master Plan will serve as a living document guiding sustainability efforts for all cities. Then, each city can chart their own course and implement their own sustainability projects. 

DeSeelhorst hopes to continue her collaborative work with Cottonwood Heights, Holladay and Millcreek, as well as to open regional dialogues with other neighboring cities. She is excited for the future of sustainability within the area. “The fun part of the project will be seeing the change happen,” she said. 

“We are leading sustainability efforts among our peers,” said Cottonwood Heights City Councilmember Christine Mikell. “It’s important to look at the work we have done and not just the work we are going to do.” 

“It’s a joy of a lifetime to do the work I do,” DeSeelhorst said. “I love when people call and reach out with questions about sustainability.” 

DeSeelhorst has also been working on a designated page for sustainability on the city’s website and she shared her excitement about those materials. “There’s a wealth of resources for residents, a specific email to contact for sustainability, and links to guides in English and Spanish. It’s a constant effort to improve the available resources, but I’m proud to see how far we’ve come.” 

For more information, visit the city’s designated Sustainability page on the city’s website