MICHIGAN CITY — A new Commission on Sustainability is on the horizon for Michigan City, after Fifth Ward Councilwoman Sharon Carnes introduced an ordinance last week calling for its creation – and five fellow council members requested to be added as co-sponsors.

Council members Johnny Stimley, Gene Simmons, Tim Bietry, Don Przybylinski and Candice Silvas were added after the first reading of the ordinance, which also calls for establishment of a restricted, non-reverting donation fund.

“Late last year, I was approached by several community members about writing an ordinance encouraging sustainability in the city; basically, looking for some kind of statements on renewable and clean energy, recycling, green space development,” Carnes said.

She said the city’s newly adopted Michigan City 2040 Comprehensive Plan addresses those issues and sets some guiding principles in place for encouraging community participation, responsible regionalism, accountability and fostering innovation.

“I thought the best way to accomplish the goals of the Michigan City 2040 Sustainability, Resiliency and Community Wellness portion of our plan, and to accommodate the folks who were wanting a sustainability ordinance, was to create a sustainability commission,” Carnes said.

“What the sustainability commission would be doing is encouraging these environmental initiatives and partnering with businesses, other commissions, neighbors, and the community in coordinating these types of initiatives.”

Stimley said studies show that when families are looking to relocate to new cities, they look at available jobs, schools and green spaces.

He said he believes the new national park designation for the National Lakeshore will be a big boost in bringing people to the area, and suggested making improvements to Michigan City’s trails system.

Przybylinski talked about the city’s declining tree canopy, noting that it’s of particular importance to him to have the city address that issue.

“I see this commission as an active and vibrant force, bringing renewable sustainability practices,” Carnes said, “and I believe it would have a positive impact on our community.”

The four-page ordinance includes detailed information on the commission’s purpose and intent, membership regulations, meeting organization and conduct, duties and responsibilities, education programs, intra-governmental cooperation and donation fund establishment.

Those interested in reading more can find the ordinance attached to the Feb. 19 agenda for the Michigan City Common Council at emichigancity.com.

A public hearing will be conducted after the ordinance’s second reading during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

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