Jon HohmanBecause “Climate Change” lends itself to unnecessary controversy, please allow me to address the ecological collapse that is nearly uncontested:
We suffer this collapse along with our children in Denton with: our F-rated air from impervious surface area devoid of healthy soil and vegetation that would otherwise scrub green house gases and particulate matter, general biodiversity loss from continuous unsustainable development, flood/drought extremes, heat island effects, contaminated watersheds, crop nutrient loss, toxins in our parks and playgrounds around our children and expectant mothers (“biosolids”/Industrial Sewage Sludge, synthetic fertilizer/pesticides), etc. most of which affects marginalized people worst.
Following through with Denton’s current commitment to ecosystem function- as partly expressed in Section 5 of the Denton Plan 2030- would solve these problems while saving us money; making green work for us by transitioning from a stewardship to a biomimicry model or from car-centric to pedestrian-centric urban design.
Barriers are: outside interests versus a public too busy, trusting, over-worked or unfamiliar with proven New Urbanism benefits to demand them. Our disconnection from each other and nature- manifesting in our state of denial of infinite growth with finite resources.
Connie BakerMy greatest concerns are about increased heat, drought, insect outbreaks and declining water supplies that lead to a reduced yield in crop, roadways, bridges, wildfires, etc. Same with extreme rainfalls in other areas. Many climate changes effects are manageable by reducing emission gases. Planning ahead and taking action to build protections where already exposed in vulnerable areas.
Daniel ClantonWe need to look to our green spaces and tree canopy.
2. Gas Drilling and Development Setbacks
The city recently voted to expand reverse setbacks on development near gas wells to 500 ft. Do you believe the 500 ft reverse setback is sufficient to protect public health? What measures would you like to see implemented to mitigate health concerns from potential air, water, soil, and fire concerns related to gas wells?
Jon HohmanWill the reader pause and take a moment to think back to playing in the clean river when you were a kid… Or did you ever get the benefit of trusting the well water at your friend’s ranch? Or have the luxury of not having to filter water for your cattle? That’s what’s at stake due to hydraulic fracturing all across the country and especially here where there’s around 300 wells already. Did you read the recent article about how some of the hill country’s water has turned brown or how you can light your faucet on fire in Fort Worth- because of fracking and socially suicidal fossil fuel operations?
No, I do not believe it is near sufficient and the only scientists who disagree are cashing fossil fuel interests’ paychecks or private interests who stand to profit at the expense of their neighbors’ childrens’ health for generations down the line.
Did you read about the fracking magnate in Fort Worth who tried to sue for the well too close to his house? This is a community rights issue and we’ll be seeing them asserted more and more everyday. Look to Grant Township in Pennsylvania in the Hidden Hand documentary…
Connie BakerNo, I feel 500 ft. is still too close to protect the public. I am not sure what measures could be implemented, but i would be willing to look into this matter.
Daniel ClantonMore testing around the wells. I am for capping of the wells near neighborhoods.
3. Renewable Commitments
Denton has committed to using only 100% renewable energy and reducing air pollution. Recently there was a possibility City Council would have to decide whether or not to sell its share in the Gibbons Creek Coal Plant, which would restart the plant and create non-renewable energy and air pollution. The Gibbons Creek site still may be sold to be used for industrial processes that could create harmful emissions. How would you ensure Denton upholds its commitment to renewable energy and reducing air pollution?
Jon HohmanI believe the money’s already been set aside to clean the area up. Issues like these come and go- this is why it’s so important to change the world where you live, and if it isn’t you standing up to do it, who is it?
I decided to run as a candidate to change the world where my children live and play so I’d vote against any measures seeking to betray Denton’s commitment to renewable energy.
To a city leaking and misplacing its money the temptation is greater- I get it. You’re strapped for cash and your principles start to slide- so get up, look around, and find another way: advocate for local resiliency over outside dependency.
It’s a commitment we made on the broader scene, not just for our air, water and soil but for our neighbors’ clean air, water and soil too- municipalities can be good neighbors too and follow through to be good on our word. It’s simple.
Isolation is a most destructive illusion and we’ll all need our neighbors in mutual aid for the downturn we’re only just glimpsing, blinded by again (and it can’t be overstated) society’s state of denial of infinite growth with finite resources.
Connie BakerThe Gibson Creek Coal Plant would be beneficial to decommission the plant and go with the plan to create a family-friendly area. Selling the Gibson Creek Plant could endanger the health of area residents and polluting the air and water.
Daniel ClantonDeclined to Respond
4. Landfill Expansion & Zero Waste
Denton is in the final stages of permitting to expand its landfill to over 200 ft high. Right now, over 50% of annual trash disposal is coming from outside cities and businesses at wholesale rates. What kinds of programs and policies would you consider to reduce trash volumes at the Denton Landfill from within the city and from outside cities and businesses? Would you consider any recycling mandates for businesses or apartments, or food waste diversion mandates (composting, food donations) for food businesses?
Jon HohmanYes because the number one landfill input is food and Americans waste half of their food. Food is wasted at every level of the supply chain. We’re literally throwing money away. Do we want to waste it or divert it? Feed the disadvantaged or let it rot? Feed livestock or pay for more feed? Compost it and fertilize Green Infrastructure and the local food economy to bolster local resilience or leave it and lean on more dependency?
There’s a ton of alternatives to so many of these environmental issues that so many multiple municipalities all across the globe are profiting from and taking advantage of- why should we short change ourselves and leave ourselves behind?
The first step in innovation is defining the problem so when did we all vote to become North Texas’ Mount Trashmore? Is that a problem for you? Did you hear the part about outsiders paying less to dump on Denton too?
When only 18% of landfill is actually not compostable or recyclable, then we have a nice starting metric for the problem that many Zero Waste innovations can solve here in Denton.
Connie BakerIt is my understanding that clothes are a big item in landfills. It would help to have more clothes recycle bins around town and encourage people to donate to our 2 Goodwill centers. Bringing your own cloth bags for groceries helps save the landfills from plastic bags. Composting sites would be helpful with leftover food items, such as, banana peels, egg shells, etc. Recycling bins for paper and cardboard, etc. at business would be very beneficial. Denton has a great recycle program with containers available for home use. We need to use them more by talking to our community members.
Daniel ClantonI know that selling the right to outside cities keeps taxes down. I am not for this practice. I would like to see recycling containers near business and apartments
5. Land Development and Green Spaces
City Council and the Planning-and-Zoning commission have recently seen some high-profile development projects approved that would severely impact or even destroy large swathes of important green corridors, further exacerbating species loss and the financial impacts thereof. Where do you stand on such developments and what steps could the city take to sustain and protect regional environmental assets?
Jon HohmanThe verdict is out: unsustainable development (sprawl) increases air and water pollution (and Covid 19 has been directly linked to particulate matter), lowers productivity, increases crime rates and traffic fatalities and hemorrhages dollars as an economic development strategy.
No robust long term fiscal analysis justifies our sprawl- sprawl that pollutes and raises property taxes where the marginalized are hit the worst.
Those who would stand to gain over paving every inch of Denton usually aren’t Dentonites but are only exploiting our resources.
Many of the interests concerned with attracting people, jobs, and business to Denton are the same ones who, by failing to adequately preserve our old growth green spaces and employ New Urbanism principles develop a gray, unattractive, unprofitable, unhealthy place to attempt to attract them to.
If we develop our own city to be remarkable, to be exceptionally Livable, then it will pay for itself, as it has for other remarkable cities across the globe. The necessity to do so has become even more necessary in this growing recession: the green city, the low carbon city, the economically successful city, the resilient city, the happy city- is the same city.
It can be Denton. It’s not too late.
Connie BakerBuilding projects are essential to growth, but we need to consider how each project will effect the agriculture, wildlife, air pollution, traffic and other components. We need to develop a strategic future vision.
Daniel ClantonDeclined to Respond
How would you engage and support community members to make positive environmental changes in Denton?
Jon HohmanI’ve made myself available at Regenerate Denton on Facebook where I engage and support my neighbors as an environmental activist here in Denton. I have so far worked successfully with council and city staff to:
1) Transition Avondale Park to all organic land management, with many others hopefully to follow with your help!
2) Update the IPM so organic pesticide use has replaced synthetic pesticide use as a first choice- even though we must ban the toxic synthetics altogether.
3) Temporarily halt the application of industrial sewage sludge on our parks where our children play (DynoDirt/biosolids)
4) Halt the use of neonicotinoids that destroy bee and butterfly populations in our Bee City and Monarch City USA
In the 2014 bond election we voted to spend $1,005,000 on property acquisition for parks but only received the money in January 2020 and are “still shopping” so I put a petition up to speed the process, along with the 5 million we voted for in 2019:
Let’s build a productive united front to advocate for all the proven strategies discussed here and more!
Connie BakerWe could add more open spaces, such as hiking trails, parks and activity centers. Reduce waste by better recycling methods. Encouraging carpools, public transit and bikes as alternate transportation.
Daniel ClantonI would like to talk and listen to their ideas. See what can be done