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E-M:/ Re: SG-W:/ Maunfactured Housing

Dear Andrea,
Thanks for your message.  I am aware of the Stockbridge "battle" as I have run into S. DeRoo at meetings re:Mobile Home Parks, I also have e-mail G.Winn dealing with this matter.  I am unfortunately not an organization, but I think we could try to get some groups working together to change this.  Has Stockbridge contacted your representatives yet? I am sure the residents in your community make up a fairly good sized constituency, nagging your rep. can help.  And calling Scranton, and Garcia with your situation may help to keep their efforts going.
  One of the things that is in your favor is the water issue.There is a state-wide effort being made to clean up the poor conditions of our rivers and tributaries, I'm sure the watershed groups have information is to what those goals are. (Any watershed folks can jump into this conversation and clue us in).
With respect to legal assistance the Michigan Land Use Institute has 2 lawyers that help them with land use cases here's their website WWW.MLUI.com e-mail them, they will get back to you promptly with the info.
They also put out a quarterly magazine "The Great Lakes Bulletin", I think this problem would make a great article for one of their issues ( any MLUI people reading this...what do you say?).
How much acreage has been rezoned from agriculture to MH?
I am attempting to find out approximately how much farmland is lost to this particular type of development.
In Lima we will lose 136 acres to MH.
In yesterdays Detroit News there was an article about Tyrone Township being sued by a mobile home developer (the evil Mr.Landon) for $2 million.  They will lose 148 acres of farmland to house a 642 unit park.
So we have a running tally so far of ... 284 acres of farmland.
Anyone else out there losing farmland to a mobile home park let me know how many acres.
Lets work together on this, we have got enough people on the short end of the stick to have things continue.
-----Original Message-----
From: andrea kline <klineoff@mich.com>
To: Jennie Breuninger <breuninger@fbwebmaster.com>; Laura Rubin <lrubin@hrwc.org>
Cc: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Date: Thursday, May 25, 2000 4:18 AM
Subject: Re: SG-W:/ Maunfactured Housing

We are currently fighting a 750-unit mobile home park development in
Stockbridge Township.  The township board, feeling powerless to do anything
to protect their constituents, has signed a consent agreement that basically
strips them of any ability to contest the development (and pays the developers legal fees to boot) .  The developer is in
the process of trying to get permits for their sewage treatment plant and
water supply system from the MDEQ.  Once these permits are in hand, there is
nothing stopping the development of a project that will increase the
population of the township by over 60%, increase the traffic on Shepper Road
from 540 to 6,000 vehicles per day, etc., all in exchange for a development
in which the occupants will be paying $36 per year in taxes.  In other
words, there will be significant adverse impacts on all residents of the
Township and Stockbridge school district.

The MDEQ originally issued a draft NPDES permit allowing discharge of 0.5
mg/l of phosphorus to Portage Creek, the largest tributary of the Huron
River.  After the public raised concerns about the impacts of the discharge
on water quality, the MDEQ actually did some water sampling (the original
draft permit conditions were not based on any empirical water quality data)
and found that conditions in the creek and downstream lakes were highly
eutrophic.  Based on this information, they reduced the phosphorus limits in
the draft permit to 0.036 mg/l, which we have been told in nearly impossible
to achieve with existing technology.  It is amazing how understanding
existing conditions can influence these decisions, and it is amazing that it
takes public pressure to force the agency charged with protecting the public
interest to take the impacts of such a discharge into account when reviewing
permit applications.  But that is another topic.

Anyway, the current status is that both the MDEQ and developer have taken
additional water samples and the MDEQ is mulling over the possiblity of
revising the phosphorus limits to 0.1 mg/l.  If a permit is issued, we have
the option to contest the decision in court.  We have standing due to the
fact that we submitted comment during the public comment period.  The Huron
River Watershed Council has been providing technical support but we have not
yet discussed what role they may be willing provide if a permit is issued
and we decide to go to court.  Does your organization provide legal support
in cases like this?  Do you know of any attorneys that you would recommend?
Are you involved in any efforts to change our currently screwed-up mobile
home regulations?  Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Andrea Kline

----- Original Message -----
From: Jennie Breuninger
To: Laura Rubin
Cc: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Sent: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 3:45 PM
Subject: Re: SG-W:/ Maunfactured Housing

Thanks for responding.  One way to impact the process is to get individuals of your group and members of other watershed groups from around Michigan to contact (ASAP, as these bills need to be ready by June before the House leaves for summer vacation) their Representative, and Rep. Scranton, and Rep. Garcia- I'll give you their numbers and e-mail to pass along.  I think it is necessary to get a broad spectrum of constituents to pressure change because this industry is big and has a Lot of apparent supporters in the political arena.  FYI: Michigan is one of only 2 states that have a commission at the State level.  Most other States don't have to contend with this particular industry when addressing issues relating to sprawl.  Lucky us!  Anyway, if members of watershed groups mobilized, and members of MEC mobilized, and members of other environmental organizations focused on this issue it would get taken more serious.  It needs to become an issue.
Rep.Judith Scranton: 1-800-295-0066; e-mail jscrant@house.state.mi.us.  Rep.Scranton is the only member that was also on the task force looking into this in 1997, she's the "leader".
Rep.Valde Gracia: 1-888-755-8686; e-mail vgarcia@house.state.mi.us
When we talk about farmland being used up to accommodate development, we can't ignore this sector.  They have a habit of targeting financially weak rural townships that have farmland available.  In Lima township (where we farm) they want to rezone 136 acres of really good farmland.  In order to get as much profit out of the land they would like to fill in a large wetland and mow down 40+ acres of old growth oak.
There is now a new "park" going in in the Saline area on what was formerly farmland.
There is a "park" attempting to be developed in Sharon Twp. on what is farmland.
There is a " park" attempting to be developed in Stockbridge on... yes Farmland.
And in Grasslake there is a "park" going in.
I am astounded to think there is such a need for so many parks.  Is this really being driven by an insatiable hunger of many to live in these places?  Or could it be the approximately 36% return on ones investment that fuels this type of development?  Tough one to figure out huh? 
So there are my suggestions, let me know what you think.
-----Original Message-----
From: Laura Rubin <lrubin@hrwc.org>
To: Jennie Breuninger <breuninger@fbwebmaster.com>
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 6:53 AM
Subject: Re: SG-W:/ Maunfactured Housing

I am the E.D. of the Huron River Watershed Council in SE Michigan and we are very concerned about the impacts of Mobile Home Park Development on water quality/land use impacts.  How can we get involved or have some impact in this process?
Thanks, Laura
----- Original Message -----
From: Jennie Breuninger
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Cc: smartgrowth
Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 10:29 PM
Subject: SG-W:/ Maunfactured Housing

Here's another environmental issue working its way through the House.  Changing the way Mobile Home Parks do business in Michigan.  I don't know where this falls with respect to timber mandates and "slob" farming, but it certainly is an industry that is making some very big impacts on rural townships and the environment.  Mondays edition of the Detroit News had a front page article highlighting again the disparities between the taxes mobile home park residents pay Vs. property owners.  Rep. Judith Scranton and Rep. Valde Garcia are heading up ANOTHER task force (the Engler administration created a task force to look into this in 1997) to try change the state law.  These behemoth developments definitely give birth to sprawl by the simple fact that they require greater amounts of services yet don't pay for them, thereby almost requiring townships to invite industry and commercial businesses into areas just to help cover the expense of these parks  And if that isn't enough, many parks have on site sewer/water treatment plants that have a high failure rate, which in turn tend to spill into water ways and pollute.  And let's not forget the amount of impervious surfaces rolled out to support these very unsustainable "houses".  Anyway, these bills always get buried because there are not enough people around the state feeling the impacts of this industry. Yet townships need to have a way to put limits on how many housing units one park can hold and try to place them in places with existing sewer.  But many developers, when they don't get a rezoning permit approved take rural townships to court, and again property tax payers pay, and usually lose. 
 Here's another opportunity to change bad policy and put forth a common sense approach to land use, but it will take many people being vocal and letting their representatives know that this industry has to change. Or we can just deal with another 50 years of business as usual, and there will be no rural townships anymore.
Jennie B.