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E-M:/ Meridian Twp Petition Drive HUGE success!

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


The petition drive to place the rezoning of Newman Equities on the ballot in
Meridian Twp. has been an overwhelming success!  We are turning in over 2100
signatures today, which is well over the required 1550 good signatures to
place the rezoning on the ballot! Perhaps even more important, MORE than 130
people CIRCULATED petitions, which given the tremendous controversy over the
Governor's Club (including the reading of the names of circulators by members
of the Twp Board effectively labelling these folks enemies of the Twp.) was
tremendously exciting and reassuring! 

Several Enviro-Mich supporters responded to my previous posts and assisted in
the effort, even some who live outside Meridian Twp. but recognize that this
issue is one that effects our entire area! THANK YOU to everyone who
participated, either by circulating or signing!  

Now the Meridian Twp clerk will need to review and check the signatures and
petitions, and if, as we are certain, we have turned in the requisite number
of valid signatures, the clerk will inform the Twp. Board, which is required
by law to set an election no later than the next general election.  We are
urging that no additional costs be incurred, and that the issue be put onto
the November general election ballot.

A couple of observations on this petition collection effort:

The people of this area (and I would guess most of Michigan) are absolutely
wonderful!  Even most those who disagreed with us were willing to hear us out,
to discuss their concerns and to politely decline.  The vast majoriy of people
whom we approached who were voters in Meridian Twp. DID sign -- some because
they believe fervently in the democratic process and are willing to put
matters like this to the voters; and most because they are concerned about the
direction our Twp is going in its land use decisions.

I had a wide array of conversations with people, both voters here and
non-residents, about what we were doing, but only one "argument".  People care
about this community -- people who have lived here for 50 years or more, as
well as relative newcomers.  A couple of people who were having bad days
started off rude, and actually apologized to me and listened to the issue (and
then signed).  The signers ranged in age from brand new voters to people in
their nineties.  The circulators did too (our 19 year old son Nate collected
43 signatures himself!).  The people who signed came from all walks of life --
I learned more about the diversity of my own community in this process.

On the downside, some folks are discouraged about whether an effort like this
can succeed -- concerned that even if we win at the polls the developers will
go to the courts and nullify our victory.  Also, a lot of people are not
registered to vote - and some of them explained that it was intentional on
their part.  

But the vast majority of people clearly believe in and are part of the
process. As a cynical optimist by personal inclination, this experience did a
whole lot to bolster the "optimist" part of my equation.  I am well aware that
it is the next few stages that tend to discourage people, where the process
moves behind the doors of the Twp, where those who can hire lobbyists and
attorneys tend to have much more sway.  But for now, I feel a renewed sense of
just how remarkable our resiliency is as a people, that the overwhelming
majority put their faith in "the system."  Making sure "the system" lives up
to their expectations is the least we can expect of our elected officials!

Anne Woiwode

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