Alpharetta first to file for green recognition

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ALPHARETTA – The city put down its green roots years ago and plans to become even greener in the future.

Alpharetta Community Development Director Diana Wheeler said it was the first city to submit an application for the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Green Communities program.

Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas put making Alpharetta a “greener” city his top goal for his final term as mayor.

“We are doing fine the way we are now, but the future is in question,” he said. “I think to protect our environment for the future generations, we need to protect and do all we can for the environment.”

Wheeler said she and her staff, who prepared the ARC application, feel Alpharetta is “more than qualified to be a green city.”

Some of the criteria used in determining a city’s status as a Green Community include energy efficiency, water use and conservation, trees and greenspace efforts.

“We have addressed every one of their items with the programs and the policies that we already either have in place or have adopted as a result of this effort,” Wheeler said.

Alpharetta has one of the strongest tree ordinances in the state, Letchas said, and will strive to keep it that way.

This year the Public Safety Department took delivery on its first hybrid cars for administrative-type positions and positions not likely to be involved in high-speed chases. Letchas said the 34-plus miles per gallon make the hybrids obviously greener than other vehicles.

“It’s proving out to be a good decision,” he said.

Recycling is a goal for the city and something that is pushed for residents.

“It’s doing what we can for the environment as far as taking less to the landfill. I encourage people to get the bigger recycling containers so they can recycle more and dump less,” Letchas said.

Alpharetta’s waste hauler offers a 35-gallon recycling container that can replace the standard 18-gallon container by calling 678-407-6216 to schedule the exchange of bins. The larger bins have lids, wheels and handles to make them easier to use.

The city encourages developers to be part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] program for energy efficiency, encouraging green roof designs that help with heating and cooling, and water runoff. Developers can be rewarded for energy efficiency.

In an idea brought by a code enforcement officer, if a developer agrees to install a timer to shut off a commercial development’s sign, Alpharetta will allow that sign to be up to 20 percent larger.

The city is making plans to save energy in its buildings wherever it can.

“And we’ve got some ordinances that we passed on the first reading that encourage [going] green,” Letchas said.