Hello Middleburg! I speak here, I hope simply, as a citizen more than as a former town official. This column discusses some environmental issues from a town perspective.

First, a disclaimer: I never served on the Go Green committee. They perform a valuable service in Middleburg and I do not presume to judge their performance and am thankful for their valuable service.

I also do not wish to impugn the current council because, as I know from experience, the Virginia state code ties their hands on most issues they may wish to address here in town. Due to the Dillon rule and the state constitution, the council may only regulate as explicitly permitted by the state legislature and state code.

Thus, the town is limited in how it can address climate and environmental issues. When I moved to town in the early eighties, I was happy to learn that Middleburg provided trash and recycling services to residents and businesses (an environmental issue of that era). As the population in Loudoun then began to mushroom, I started to consider a broader range of issues (such as keeping that growth away from town).

I am a huge fan of dark night skies, but light pollution soon began erasing the stars I would much like to see reappear. The council did require shielded lighting (lamps that focus lighting downwards, rather than everywhere). However, that is not enough. Light pollution does not just spoil stargazing; it disrupts plant and animal cycles. Dominion power owns the streetlights in the residential areas. I would like to see the town budget to pay Dominion to replace those lights, which spew light in every direction with downward focused shielded fixtures. With little effort or expense, the town can reduce light pollution and save money on reduced future lighting bills.

Some neighbors leave outdoor lights, such as porch lights, on all night. If you are in this camp, please consider using a lamp with a shielded fixture and a timer or (better) a motion detector. These are readily available within reasonable prices.

Many of us are also concerned with the pollution Dominion’s power plants release. The town has no regulatory power there, but it can find ways to encourage alternatives, such as solar panels. I do not know how many people or businesses would consider solar on their roofs, but I am considering it. Council can help by encouraging us. A good way to start is to coordinate with environmental organizations that already work in this arena. Has council considered including solar for the new Town Hall it is planning? That would certainly set the right example!

Council has discussed providing charging stations for electric vehicles, but I do not know if any are yet available. That information needs to be on the town web site! Electric vehicle owners are certain to check whether they can charge their battery before deciding to visit here. Again, council should check to see if we could coordinate with organizations working to make this easier to implement.

If you live within the Middleburg town limits and like any of the ideas outlined here, please consider joining council. You may apply to council for a short-term appointment to fill in for Keven Hazard, a current member moving away. Another opportunity arrives in the May 2020 election – run for a four-year term!

I need topics to address in future columns to continue writing. Do you have questions or ideas you want me to address in a future column – should I continue the column? I would love to hear your comments, suggestions or questions, so please send them to the Eccentric!

I need topics to address in future columns to continue writing. Do you have questions or ideas you want me to address in a future column – should I continue the column? I would love to hear your comments, suggestions or questions, so please send them to the Eccentric!