Cutler Bay encourages businesses that pursue environmental goals

Cutler Bay recently approved a resolution to establish a recognition program for businesses that follow various green policies set by the town.

The resolution is in line with Cutler Bay’s Green Master Plan. The plan was created in 2018 and is a tentative guide, analyzing the city’s existing green policies and activities to make the town more environmentally sustainable.

The plan includes four goals; the recent resolution focuses on increased knowledge and skills of the community.

Businesses that want to receive the Environmental Stewardship Award will have to apply several green policies. Those policies include significantly reducing the use of plastic straws, bags and other material, and providing parking with charging stations for golf carts and electric vehicles.

Businesses that apply these polices and the goals found in the larger plan will receive a plaque, and formal recognition by the mayor and council. The business will be featured on the town’s website and social-media platforms.

Rafael Rivera, an employee at Musicians Discount Center in Village Square South, believes this award would give business more motivation to apply green polices due to the publicity a business would receive.

The resolution was introduced by Mayor Tim Meerbott and was co-sponsored by Councilmember Michael P. Callahan.

Callahan said that he played a role in the creation of this resolution because he originally drafted an ordinance to ban single-use plastic straws. His ordnance was put aside due to Governor Ron DeSantis’ veto earlier this year, allowing local governments to control whether to ban plastic straws.

“He [Meerbott] wanted me to co-sponsor it [resolution] because of my original plastic straw ban,” said Callahan.

City Manager Rafael G. Casals explained that the town has implemented several initiatives to go greener.

Some of these efforts include cleaner methods of transportation, such as allowing residents the option to use golf carts on town maintained roads; and teaching environmental education, including programs in schools.

Throughout the years, Cutler Bay has been at the forefront in environmental awareness.

In 2009, Cutler Bay introduced the Go Green initiative. Due to the success of this initiative, The Florida Green Building Coalition awarded the town the designation of Certified Silver. This made Cutler Bay the first municipality in Miami-Dade County to receive this honor.

According to the Florida Bar News and Journal, Cutler Bay played a significant role in proposing legislation in 2010 to create Florida’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program, in which property owners would be able to create renewable energy programs without government subsidies.

In the upcoming town council meeting schedule for June 19, Callahan plans to reintroduce his original ordnance.

“Coming in June I’m bringing back my ordinance to ban single-use plastic straws.”

Julian Quintana is Senior at Florida  International University pursuing a degree in journalism who is graduating in the spring. He has been reporting on stories in the town of Cutler Bay and wishes to pursue investigative journalism after graduation.