Council Advances Michitson Plan to Study Green Business Incentives; Bevilacqua Expresses Doubt

Councilors John A. Michitson and Joseph J. Bevilacqua. (Jay Saulnier photographs for WHAV News. )

It was a tale of two cities at last week’s Haverhill City Council meeting.

The first was a vision introduced by Councilor John A. Michitson of a city with a significantly reduced carbon footprint as a result of environmentally friendly construction practices. The second was a cost and business concerns raised by fellow Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Michitson began by asking the council’s Planning and Development Committee to look into policies to provide incentives to developers to use sustainable and environmentally-friendly best practices.

“Either a building or a park to generate more energy than they use and offering developers incentives because of the value to the city,” he said, explaining his rationale.

Michitson cited two examples where such practices are in use. The city of Seattle, Wash., where climate strategies include a Living Building Pilot Program with a goal of making buildings carbon neutral by 2050. He also pointed to Microsoft which has promised to be carbon negative by 2030. He said that is the kind of company that would be attracted to a business park constructed with the same goals in mind.

Taking a contrary position, Bevilacqua, chairman of the Planning and Development Committee, said while he supported the idea of a green Haverhill, he does not believe it is feasible.

“It has to be a reality as to what is actually attainable before we put policy in place. Otherwise, you shut the door to people looking at the City of Haverhill. If we put too many adverse conditions upon a company’s building and if we increase their costs dramatically, then we might as well just shut the door to economic development in the city of Haverhill,” he argued.

Fellow Councilor Michael S. McGonagle responded saying, while he understands Bevilacqua’s concern, the proposal is simply to explore the validity of the idea.

Ultimately, councilors unanimously agreed with Council President Timothy J. Jordan noting that considering new ideas is the essence of their jobs as city councilors.

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