Dancing at the Crossroads

Dancing at the crossroads used to be young people´s opportunity to meet and enjoy themselves on mild summer evenings in the countryside in Ireland, and it is now a key metaphor in Irish cultural and political life.

It’s also an apt way to characterize the convergence of enthusiasm for low-impact development, or LID, in coastal North Carolina. Development, environmental and governmental interests are excited about LID and are working together to make it occur. LID intersects their interests and provides a clear roadmap to promote a sound economy and environment.

Lauren Kolodij

In the past several years, huge progress has been made in gaining acceptance for LID along our coast. Hats off to the work of Lauren Kolodij on our staff. She has been our LID ambassador. Her enthusiasm for LID has infected homebuilders, local governments, state agencies and politicians and resulted in changes to state and local rules that actively encourage LID practices.

Because of Lauren, we now have an active partnership with the homebuilders’ association in Wilmington in trying to promote LID. We had a story about it on our Web site last week.

The list of local governments that have amended their local codes and adopted tools to promote LID is impressive and consistently growing.  They include:  Brunswick County, New Hanover County, Pender County, Cape Carteret, Cedar Point, Columbia, Jacksonville, Manteo and Wilmington. The N.C. Division of Water Quality and N.C. Department of Transportation have included LID in their programs, and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has installed LID practices at its headquarters in Morehead city.

And thanks to our educational programs, dozens of schools now sport rain gardens for education, and serious bio-retention basins that infiltrate a substantial part of their polluted runoff. Funding for these retrofits has come from corporations like Wal-Mart as well and government and private grants.

There’s still a huge amount of work left to accomplish before LID becomes standard operating procedure all along our coast. But there’s real hope that that day isn’t too far off given the willingness of diverse groups to actively dance together to promote LID.

About the Author

Todd Miller

Todd founded the North Carolina Coastal Federation in 1982. A native of Carteret County, he was selected in 2013 as a distinguished alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received his undergraduate and masters degrees. Todd also received The Old North State Award in 2007, the National Wetlands Community Leader Award in 2012 and the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards' Hero of Seas Award in 2015. He is a founding board member of Restore America Estuaries, a member of the Board of Visitors for the UNC Institute for the Environment and chairman of the Policy Committee for the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary Partnership. As executive director, Todd formulates the federation’s goals and policy positions, serves as the federation’s spokesperson and provides staff and operations oversight.