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DeKalb commission’s ‘going green’ efforts heralded by City Council

March 18, 2019

DeKalb is going green thanks to the efforts of a resident-led environmental group working to create a more sustainable city.

The efforts of the Citizens’ Environmental Commission under the leadership of Chairman Dan Kenney were heralded by the City Council during its regular meeting March 11. As part of the “Proudly DeKalb” portion of the agenda, Kenney presented the commission’s 2018 accomplishments and talked about its 2019 goals.

“The [commission] worked closely with the city to improve the quality of DeKalb’s environment, respond to city requests on environmental issues, and monitor and update the city’s sustainability plan,” Kenney said.

The commission helped the city adopt a comprehensive native landscaping ordinance and create policy for solar farms and gardens. After the group’s recommendation, the city also revised Chapter 50 of its municipal code to allow the commission to raise funds to support its sustainability initiatives.

In 2018, DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith also signed the National Mayor’s Climate Pact at the urging of the commission.

Kenney’s list of 2019 goals included a number of topics.

“We will continue to monitor and facilitate implementation of the city’s sustainability plan, develop new and innovative environmental education programs, cooperate with the DeKalb County watershed coordinator and others involved in the Kishwaukee River watershed study, and continue to monitor the installation of LED lighting in the city,” Kenney said.

He also said the commission is in the process of researching grants or funds to use for installing electric car-charging stations in the city.

The commission also will investigate the feasibility of allowing urban chickens in the city, educating residents about the dangers of radon gas exposure and allowing coal tar sealants on driveways.

Smith heralded Kenney’s efforts in leading the group.

“What a success story this has been and continues to be,” Smith said. “Dan, you are John Q., public champion, and I can’t say enough for your efforts on behalf of the city.”

Kenney also is the executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens.

“I’m the past chair [of the commission],” 2nd Ward Alderman Bill Finucane said. “I’m so pleased the work has continued on.”