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Ferndale incentivizes environmental sustainability practices in new projects

The city of Ferndale is serious about its environmental sustainability efforts. So much so, in fact, that the city has integrated green infrastructure into its negotiations with developers. They've since further developed those efforts by adding a new position to the planning department. Erin Quetell was hired as the city's first Environmental Sustainability Planner just six months ago.

Ferndale uses incentives to get developers to add green infrastructure features like permeable surfaces to manage stormwater runoff. Should a developer want access to something like Brownfield tax increment financing, they have to work with the city on its environmental sustainability requests.

Jordan Twardy, Community and Economic Development Director for Ferndale, takes part in those negotiations. He's helped green infrastructure become a priority in development talks. Examples include introducing an underground water retention system at the Parkdale Townes townhouse development and permeable surfaces at the new parking structure downtown. Even saving old oak trees is on the table.

"Basically, what I do is lay out what we're trying to accomplish. There's always some back-and-forth, some trade-offs," he says. "It's an extra layer of nuance but worth the effort."

According to Twardy, Quetell's hiring has helped the city better formalize the process, while also improving Ferndale's own green infrastructure.

Lately, Quetell has been focusing on improving waste management and recycling rates in the city. She's been studying the implementation of an anaerobic digester to improve on city compost practices. The anaerobic digester uses a closed system to deprive compost of oxygen, breaking organic materials down while capturing methane emissions to provide energy to power facilities or gain energy credits.

"We're looking at making small efficiency updates like street lights and interior lighting, and then go bigger from there," says Quetell. "We're working toward a sustainability master plan."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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