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E-M:/ Doug Jester replies on sprawl question

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

Forwarded bounced message....

From: "Douglas B Jester" <jester@tcimet.net>
To: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Subject: RE: Regional Land Use Planning / RE: / Meridian Twp.: Serving as a
Bad Example Again 
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 21:59:15 -0400
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Anne and Others,

(An aside for others who are on enviro-mich: I am a member of East Lansing
City Council, immediate past Mayor of East Lansing, consider myself an
environmentalist, and am a systems ecologist and environmental economist by

This note is meant to be about general issues of annexation and land use
planning and is not meant to be about the annexation proposed by the
Governor's Club developers, so please don't misunderstand my intentions in
writing this note. I still need to do a lot of homework on the Governor's
Club plan before I decide my views on that proposal.

Let us assume for purposes of discussion that we are all against sprawl and
examine the questions of annexation and regionalism. The alternative to
sprawl is higher density and more compact settlement geometries. This
implies that development should occur in or adjacent to settled areas. An
effective way to encourage these more desirable development forms is to
discourage development in unincorporated areas and to encourage development
in cities. Annexation would then be the normal process for facilitating
development. Places like Meridian Township wouldn't be developed except by
annexation to places like East Lansing. In short, a strong argument can be
made that the very notion of Charter Townships is bad, that annexation
should be relatively easy and detachment hard, and that development should
almost always occur via annexation.

As for regional land use planning, the idea seems attractive only because we
allow development to occur in townships. If development occurred primarily
through annexation, then land use planning would be done by the annexing
cities and there would be significantly less need for regional planning.
Further, since development and hence tax base would not escape the cities so
readily, city finances would be stronger and cities would be better able to
maintain their center and intensify development within the city rather than
sprawl on the margins.

I would argue that people who oppose sprawl should live in cities, favor
annexation, and oppose development in townships. It makes little sense to me
for people who live in Meridian Township to oppose annexations by East
Lansing as creating sprawl when those same people live in developments that
are even further from the Lansing-East Lansing urban core of this region.
One might even say that development around East Lansing via annexation is
in-fill now that Meridian Township has developed so extensively.

Best wishes,

Douglas Jester

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
[mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, May 19, 1999 6:40 PM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: E-M:/ RE: / Meridian Twp.: Serving as a Bad Example Again

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

Just curious, but what is your solution to the problem of the many units of
local government we have in the state?  Put us all under leadership of one

Bonnie Shupe, Cannon Township Clerk and Watershed Administrator


There are many who can do a much better job of explaining how regionalizing
our planning and zoning efforts could be done. In the simplest sense it is
critical for our communities, which are already economically and socially
interdependent, to be tied together in our land use and planning activities.
We, meaning everyone except the specific developer of the moment, cannot win
if all it takes for them to get their way is to threaten to bolt to a
neighboring community, or threaten to sue, or bully local community
out of expressing their legitimate concerns.

In East Lansing, Mark Meadows and the East Lansing City Council have a
opportunity to turn this mess into a positive situation -- they can look
beyond supposed pot of gold in taxes (which has been shown time and time
not to really address the full costs to a community of new development) to
what this means to the REAL community here.  That community is the seamless
reality we live in -- the same people work in Lansing, live in East Lansing,
shop in Meridian Township, recreate in Holt and go to church in
Williamston --
yet our political community fails to account for that.

East Lansing could take advantage of this and leverage some enforcable
commitments out of the developers of the Governor's Club that would help
address the legitimate concerns of the neighbors, who will be neighbors
regardless of jurisdiction.  Wouldn't it be spectacular if East Lansing did
what Meridian Township had failed to do -- listened to the people who will
directly effected by this development, and guarantee that their concerns
met.  Just because the Governor's Club is going to seek annexation to East
Lansing doesn't mean that they would automatically get everything they asked

Seems like, as well, that MSU could take a role instead of remaining
"neutral".  After all, as a university with a tremendous agricultural and
natural resource base, there are many people at MSU STUDYING this very issue
who could assure that what is done here does not wreak havoc on reasonable
planning and zoning efforts.  Does MSU want to sit by passively and simply
development occur around them with no input or opinion whatsoever, or will
this university actually turn its experts loose to help secure the best plan
and best outcome.  After all, MSU experts are always ready to give advice to
other communities and businesses -- don't they have at least as great an
obligation here in their own back 40 to give sound advice?

Those are a couple of thoughts.

Anne Woiwode

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