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E-M:/ Meridian Twp. Board Zoning Violates Plan 61% of time



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Enviro-Mich message from "Tom & Anne Woiwode" <woiwode@voyager.net>
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NEWS RELEASE


For immediate release
Contact: Joan Guy 339-2158
     1083 Woodside Dr.
          Haslett, MI 48840


REPORT SAYS, MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP BOARD HAS ABANDONED TOWNSHIP MASTER PLAN
PLANNING COMMISSIONERS ALARMED

MERIDIAN VULNERABLE TO LAWSUITS, LEGAL ANALYSIS SAYS

MERIDIAN TWP: Nine current and former Meridian Township Planning
Commissioners today expressed alarm at report findings that show that zoning
decisions by the Meridian Township Board have abandoned the Townshipıs
Comprehensive Development Plan and may leave the Township open to developer
lawsuits. A report released by the former Planning Commission Chair, Joan
Guy documents that the Board approved zoning changes in violation of the
Township Comprehensive Development Plan 61% of the time between January 1997
and May 2000. A separate legal analysis also released today, raises concerns
that the failure to abide by the Plan leaves the township vulnerable to
legal challenges from developers.

 At a press conference outside the Meridian Township Hall, former Planning
Commission members Joan Guy, Quenda Story and Tom Hammond discussed the
findings of the report (attached), which was compiled from Township records.
Other former and current Planning Commissioners concerned by reportıs
findings and the Townshipıs vulnerability to lawsuits are Gil Sherman, Sam
Smith, Warren Slocum, Michael Leon, Cecilia Kramer and Tom Nelson.
According to Guy, who chaired the Planning Commission in 1996, the records
show that of the 44 zoning applications acted on by the Board between
January 1997 and May 2000, 27, or 61%, violated the Future Land Use Map of
the Plan. In addition, zoning decisions led to a net loss of 93 acres of
residential properties, and a net increase of 418 acres of land upzoned to a
higher density category, including from residential to commercial and office
zoning.

 ³The Comprehensive Development Plan is intended by law to guarantee orderly
development in a community, to give land owners confidence in the future
direction of land use in their area, and to protect the property values of
residents and business owners,² according to Guy. ³The disregard for the
Plan by Meridianıs Board is a serious breach of faith with residents.²

 The group also released a memo prepared by local attorney Rick Foster which
raised concerns about the Township's vulnerability to legal challenges
brought by developers. Citing a recent case in the City of Troy, the Foster
memo notes that: "by failing to follow the townships master plan
(comprehensive development plan) this township board may have created a
situation where it now has little or no effective say in how property can be
used in Meridian Township."

 "The Troy case demonstrates that this Board is living under an illusion if
it believes it can make exception after exception to basic planning
principles and then suddenly try and go back to the plan with impunity,"
said Quenda Story. "The Board of Trustees, by approving so many developments
outside the comprehensive development plan has put its right to plan for
growth in serious jeopardy - to say nothing of trampling on the wishes of
residents."

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Tom, Anne, Nate and Pete Woiwode
5088 Powell Road
Okemos, MI 48864

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