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Berkeley Lake discusses having 'green' City Hall

BERKELEY LAKE - Mayor Lois Salter and City Council members Thursday night discussed whether the new City Hall building now in the planning stages should carry a special energy certification.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification of a building begins with a LEED-certified architect, according to Salter.

Council member Debbie Guthrie said the "green" characteristics of the building are more important than LEED certification, adding that having a green City Hall sends the right message to residents about the city's commitment to environmental preservation.

Green, or environmentally friendly, construction entails using local resources (rock, stone, locally manufactured building materials), efficient use and reflection of sunlight and minimal impact on an area, among other things.

Salter and the council members agreed to begin the search for a building architect and to take into consideration the architect's experience in green construction and LEED certification.

Planning and Zoning board members as well as council members have been debating whether to change the planning meeting practices that have been in effect for about 12 years. In the past, the board members have convened meetings as the need for meetings arose, usually for variance requests.

Guthrie suggested in a recent City Council meeting that the board meet on a regularly scheduled basis just as the council does, reasoning that their response to council requests would be more timely. Councilman George Sipe opposed Guthrie's suggestion, citing among other reasons the fact that board members can address needs more quickly when they meet "as needed."

Planning board member Frank Lombardi said Thursday night that, while he initially agreed with Guthrie's suggestion, discussion with other board members convinced him that resident needs are addressed more quickly meeting "as needed" rather than on a set schedule.

Salter and the council members agreed that the board will continue to meet as needed but will respond promptly to council requests when urgency is required.