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E-M:/ Fighting Sprawl in Meridian Township

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

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Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 18:21:39 -0400
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
From: woiwode@vol.com (Tom & Anne Woiwode)
Subject: Fighting Sprawl in Meridian Twp. 


This may be considered too local in focus, but I know a number of
Enviro-Mich subscribers are in the Lansing area and many statewide are
concerned about sprawl.  What is happening  in Meridian Township is
everyone's nightmare when it comes to trying to develop sound policies on

>For immediate release                  Contact: Anne Woiwode (day) 484-2372
>May 4, 1999                                                 Pat Hagen
>(eve) 347-4138
>Fight for Quality of Life in Meridian Township inspires Zoning Petition Drive
>       Calling it a fight for the quality of life of Okemos and Haslett,
>Meridian Township residents today kicked off a zoning petition drive to
>reverse the up-zoning to commercial of a 40 acre residential area in the
>heart of the township.  Citing an alarming escalation of up-zonings and a
>recent proposal to modify or remove the Township's Urban Service Boundary,
>the petition drive initiators point to the effort to overturn this
>rezoning as one of the few handles for Township residents to stop or slow
>the relentless assault by developers against orderly planning and zoning
>in Meridian Township.
>       The group says that the Township Board is doing the developers'
>bidding, having approved on average one up zoning per month in the 2 1/2
>years since they took office.  "The Meridian Township Board is out of step
>with its constituents who want smart growth to protect what makes our
>community great, as clearly spelled out in the Community Attitudes Survey
>sponsored by the Township," says Anne Woiwode.  "As a result, we are being
>forced to go directly to the people of this community to ask them to join
>us in this effort to overturn the rezoning and to try to stop the erosion
>of our quality of life in Meridian Township."
>       The petitioners seek to overturn the rezoning of the property
>called Newman Equities between Central Park Drive on the west and Powell
>Road on the east.  The petition drive, initiated by an ad hoc group that
>includes several past Planning Commission members and neighbors living
>adjacent to the area being rezoned,  must secure approximately1550
>signatures from registered voters in Meridian Township by the end of May
>in order to secure a township wide vote to overturn the rezoning.
>       The Newman Equities rezoning, if allowed to stand, would permit
>construction of an enormous "Big Box" style of commercial development, the
>most intensive and obtrusive commercial development possible.  The
>property backs up to single family residential areas on the east and
>north.  "Even with the proposed buffer zone, neighboring homes will be
>subjected to the noise, the smells, the sounds, the lights, the traffic
>and the threats of living next to a huge, busy shopping center," said
>Quenda Story. "If the Township Board can force this development on the
>residents of this area, in conflict with the Master Plan and the desires
>of the community, then no residential neighborhood in Meridian Township is
>safe from commercial development."
>       The Meridian Township citizens pursuing the petition argue that the
>Newman Equities rezoning is directly contrary both to the Meridian
>Township Master Plan and the Community Attitude Survey, which shows that
>residents believe the pace of development in the Township is too fast and
>there is already too much commercially zoned land.  The Master Plan was
>adopted with extensive public input to be a guide to orderly development
>of the Township, but the current Township Board has routinely ignored or
>overruled the Plan without attention to the cumulative effect on this
>community, according to the petitioners. The Master Plan designated the
>Newman Equities as office and residential, and prior zonings were
>consistent with that plan, while the rezoning is in conflict.
>       In addition, the petitioners point out that this rezoning is not
>the last offensive being launched by developers on orderly development
>under the Master Plan.  As a consequence of the rezoning, the property
>owners to the north have already requested a change in their zoning to
>expand the commercial zoning.  Also, at the request of the Meridian
>Alliance of Developers, township officials are considering doing away with
>the Urban Service Boundary, which sets limits on city services such as
>sewer lines. "One of the most important tools for protecting the rural and
>residential areas of Meridian Township was the inclusion of an Urban
>Service Boundary in the Master Plan," according to Woiwode. "This is just
>the next step in the non-stop offensive on Meridian Township's future by
>developers, and the Board seems ready to meet their demands."
>       The petitioners are asking for volunteers to assist with
>circulating the petition, with an aim of gathering 2,000 signatures.  The
>petitioners acknowledge up front some concern about recent attempts at
>character assassination and legal threats heaped on other zoning petition
>circulators.  "While we would be fools not to be concerned that the same
>nasty tactics will be applied against this effort, we feel that we have no
>choice," says Pat Hagen. "If these efforts at intimidation silence
>legitimate opposition to uncontrolled growth in Meridian Township, then
>the citizens of this community will have absolutely no recourse to being
>steam rolled by well-financed developers."
>       People willing to help circulate petitions are asked to contact Pat
>Hagen at 347-4138, or Anne Woiwode at 349-7182.

                                                                Tom, Anne,
Nate and Pete Woiwode
                                                             and their
wonder dogs Tess and Sludge
beautiful Okemos, Michigan

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