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E-M:/ Tour De Sprawl in Ann Arbor

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Last Saturday Ann Arbor environmentalists, led by the Huron Valley Group of
the Sierra Club, held an eye-opening "Tour de Sprawl".  Over 100 participants
were expected in the tour, including bicyclists and bus riders.  Below is the
press release that describes some of the issues.  Also, Sierra Club has
produced a report "Suburban Sprawl Costs Us All in the Midwest", a tabloid
style overview of the issues.  Copies of the report are available from the
Sierra Club Midwest Office, 214 N. Henry St., Suite 203, Madison, WI 53703 for
$20 each, or as little as $5.00 each in quantities.  Call 608-257-4994 for

Sierra Club Conservation News           

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           CONTACT: Brett Hulsey, 608/257-4994
October 2, 1997                 Alison Horton, 517-484-2372

Sierra Club and Local Officials Release Report Showing 
Suburban Sprawl Increases Gridlock and Taxes in Michigan

Detroit, MI--The Sierra Club and the Michigan Environmental Council released a
report today showing that suburban sprawl costs us all in Michigan and the
Midwest.  The group made southeast Michigan the next site of the Midwest Tour
de Sprawl to highlight the costs of sprawl in the Detroit area.

"Suburban sprawl costs us all with higher property taxes and more traffic
gridlock," said Judy Thompson, Michigan Chapter Conservation Chair.  "On
average, Midwest residential sprawl costs taxpayers 120% more to service with
roads and schools, than it pays in taxes.  This is why many Washtenaw County
residents are calling for purchasing development rights program from farmers
rather than paying higher taxes for sprawl."

The groups released a report, Suburban Sprawl Costs Us All in the Midwest,
that shows that suburban sprawl and unplanned development in Michigan causes
more traffic gridlock, increases property taxes, destroys natural habitat and
farm land, and threatens drinking water.  The report points out that sprawl
increases taxes by one-eighth for some Michigan communities, according to a
recent study by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

"Suburban sprawl costs Michigan taxpayers billions of dollars," said Julie
Stoneman, Director of Land Programs for Michigan Environmental Council.
"Paying for the new schools, roads, sewers, police protection for sprawl
costs existing taxpayers more money than building homes closer together."

Traffic gridlock and poor land use planning costs Detroit area drivers $2.3
billion each year for wasted time and fuel.  Sprawl also creates air
pollution since more people have to drive to work due to sprawl.

"We have to look at the total costs of sprawl before we allow our cornfields
to be converted to new sprawl malls and highways," said Alison Horton, Sierra
Club Michigan State Director."We can control suburban sprawl by
asking Governor Engler to stop subsidizing sprawl by stopping unneeded
highway projects and to fix the Subdivision Act that makes sprawl worse."

The Sierra Club is taking its Midwest Tour de Sprawl to Washtenaw County on
Saturday to highlight the positive and negative aspects of sprawl.

"Michigan and the Detroit area have some of the worst sprawl in the Midwest
and the nation," said Judy Thompson. "We will tour some of the sprawl sites
and discuss plans to stop the sprawl that is eating up Southeastern Michigan
and costing us all."

Between 1982 and 1992, Michigan allowed 10 acres of farm land an hour to be
destroyed by sprawl due to weak land use laws.

"Sprawling subdivisions, unneeded highways, and malls mean that the water runs
off the land and causes worse flooding and more water pollution," said Brett
Hulsey, report author and Director of the Sierra Club Sprawl Costs Us All
Project. "Places like southeast Michigan and Washtenaw County are getting hit
hard by sprawl and traffic congestion."

Suburban Sprawl Costs Us All in the Midwest calls on people to stop sprawl by:

1. Shopping in compact shopping areas, don't support sprawling malls and
developers with your business or shopping.  Carpool, bike, walk, or take
public transportation whenever possible.

2. Asking elected officials to support Property Tax Impact Studies on new
sprawl developments to find out the real costs of sprawl, support Sprawl
Growth Boundaries to promote compact development in areas like southeast
Michigan, and support Purchase of Development Rights and other incentives to
protect farms, parks, and open land.

3. Asking Governor Engler to support effective land conservation laws to allow
local communities to plan growth, fix the Subdivision Act, stop
state-sponsored sprawl such as tax breaks for sprawl companies, and support
balanced transportation funding that does more than just build more
sprawl-causing highways.

4.  Asking President Clinton and Vice-President Gore to stop permitting sprawl
in places that flood like wetlands with a moratorium on new sprawl building
in floodplains and wetlands, and thank them for phasing out some easy wetland
destruction permits and making air pollution standards protect human health.

The Sierra Club held its bicycle and bus Tour de Sprawl starting in Ann Arbor
at Burns Park (on Wells north of the Stadium Blvd., at 9 a.m., on Saturday,
October 4th, or October 5th in case of rain).


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