Monday night, the Greenville City Council held a meeting to discuss board adjustment, community appearance and neighborhood advisory. Ordinances were approved and met with a major push from the community for a new sustainability office.
The first public comment came from Barbara Gladhorn, a member of the Cypress Glen Sustainability Committee. She made an argument for the creation of a new office in the city government, a sustainability office.
“The office would be staffed by professionals who would lead and coordinate efforts to reduce Greenville’s environmental footprint, to try and grow a clean and green city,” Gladhorn said.
Another speaker who advocated for the sustainability office was Jake Hochard, a professor at East Carolina University. Hochard is currently running for a position in North Carolina’s House of Representatives for district 9, which covers Greenville.
Hochard started by thanking the council and Greenville Utilities for its handling of the culvert replacement downtown and emphasizing the need for further developments on sustainability projects.
“I’m here to encourage the hiring of a citywide sustainability manager, not only to identify our city’s future conservation priorities but also to measure the value of our current and past progress,” Hochard said.
Local priest Ann Harrington also came up to push for the sustainability office, offering a prayer and song for the council, which both focused on the relationship between man and nature. Harrington asked everyone to stand if they were in support of the office of sustainability, to which over 20 people rose.
Barney Kane, another speaker pushing for the creation of a sustainability office, focused primarily on the economic aspect of sustainability. He said if there was another sustainability officer for the City of Greenville, the community would be less likely to fall into bad habits.
“If we just had a sustainability officer whose beating heart was to look at the ways that we fall into wasteful practices, that would be a great benefit,” Kane said.
Another speaker from the community, Charles Beddard, stressed the importance of caring for the veterans of Greenville, and made an appeal to the city council to help fund an event meant to help veterans and widows with its Veteran Affairs claims and benefits.
Beddard’s association, the Veterans Experience Action Center (VEAC) will host an event in May to assist veterans with their claims.
“We’re expecting an excess of 15,000 people to come in during this time, which will be a tremendous boost to our economy, not to mention the attention that it will bring to Greenville for what we are doing for our veterans,” Beddard said.
Beddard said that a lot of veterans are not aware of all their benefits after serving, which is why VEAC seeks to help them figure out their claims.
The rest of the meeting focused primarily on the Board of Adjustment, the Community Appearance Commission and the Neighborhood Advisory Board.
Chairman of the Board of Adjustment, Bill Johnson, gave a short presentation on his committee, consisting of appeals, special use permits, variances and the interpretations of rules.
“We had some training this year, the whole board attended a day of training by the School of Government and we had local training conducted by the state,” Johnson said.
William Wooten, the chair of the Community Appearance Commission (CAC), showed his commission’s work in order to praise and improve Greenville’s current community.
Throughout 2019, CAC awarded businesses with awards in order to encourage further enhancement of Greenville’s appearance. CAC also awards grants to neighborhoods in order to help fund any beautification efforts made.
“The CAC continues to encourage the improvement of neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Improvement Grant Program,” Wooten said. “We are able to award up to $750 for a grant, and this year we awarded three neighborhood improvement grants this year.”
The final board that was addressed at the meeting was the Neighborhood Advisory Board (NAB), which was presented by Ann Hamze.
NAB is comprised of three main committees, land use, public safety and community building. The Land Use Committee addresses flooding and draining issues and tries to decrease the amount of litter in the city.
“We appreciate mayor Connelly’s efforts for revitalizing the adopt-a-street program. Several neighborhoods as well as businesses and organizations are now part of the program,” Hamze said.
He said that the Public Safety Committee has one main goal that it wants to focus on, advocating for the improvement to infrastructure in order to address public safety.
The final committee, the Community Building Committee, is set with the task of organizing new neighborhoods and revitalizing existing ones.
“At the request of the Greenville police, the NAB is making a special effort to help neighborhoods in West Greenville to organize their neighborhoods,” Hamze said.
The meeting concluded with the recognition of multiple birthdays by the councilmembers, including Mayor P.J. Connelly’s mother.