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E-M:/ Sierra Club Releases Sprawl Report

Enviro-Mich message from daniel.farough@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

News from 
Michigan Sierra Club
109 East Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906 - Ph: 517/484-2372 - Fax 517/484-3108

  For Immediate Release:                                                Contact:
  Thursday September 14, 2000   Alison Horton or 
Dan Farough, Lansing



Lansing -The Sierra Club released the latest report in its campaign to stop 
suburban sprawl from its new office in Old Town Lansing today.  The report 
entitled, Smart Choices or Sprawling Growth, is a 50 state survey that examines 
examples of good and bad development choices from across the country.  The 
report finds that while an increasing number of communities are embracing smart 
growth projects to combat sprawling growth, many public officials and developers
are still feeding suburban sprawl - haphazard, unplanned development that 
increases traffic, destroys green space increases taxes and air pollution. "The 
report shows that we do not have to settle for sprawl.  We have other options 
and can choose to rejuvenate downtowns, and protect open space, and that some 
developers are coming on board," said Alison Horton, Director of the Mackinac 
Chapter of the Sierra Club.

In the section on Michigan, the report gives a national profile to two well 
known development actions in Greater Lansing: Old Town Revitialization in 
downtown Lansing and the Governor's Club golf course project in Meridian 
Township.  "Greater Lansing communities have been on the cutting edge of both 
the good and the bad in terms of fighting and promoting sprawl," said Horton.  
"At one moment we see outstanding efforts to revitalize urban centers, 
neighborhoods and preserve open space and the next we see efforts promoting 
haphazard growth, golf courses and strip malls." 

On the good side, The Sierra Club cited efforts on the part of developers, 
public officials and community organizations, like the Old Town Main Street 
Association, which has worked to revitalize the historic Old Town district that 
had become run down, but is now witnessing a rebirth.  The area has seen a 
steady influx of businesses, restaurants and art galleries.  The Sierra Club 
recently relocated its offices to Old Town to be part of the urban 
revitalization effort.  "Redevelopment, like Old Town, is spurred by community 
groups, neighborhoods and developers working together to create livable 
said Amy Collett, Director of the Old Town Main Street Association.  "In Old 
Town, we have really pulled together a diverse group to make this work."

On the bad side, the Sierra Club report condemns projects like the recent 
regional development disaster, the Governors Club golf course development in 
southwest Meridian Township.  This project was embedded in the minds of the 
residents throughout mid-Michigan for the way in which developers embroiled the 
three communities of Lansing, East Lansing and Meridian Township in a land war 
and trampled a citizen petition drive.  "The Governor's Club fiasco demonstrates
the tremendous need for a form of regional cooperation that stops the pitting of
one community against another and respects citizens' right to participate in 
land use decisions," said Horton.

The report pays particular attention to market research, visual preference 
surveys and the success of smart growth projects nationwide to demonstrate that 
there are better ways to live, work and play.  "The examples cited in Smart 
Choices or Sprawling Growth, show that communities like those in mid-Michigan do
have a choice as to how they grow and that the demand for smart growth is there.
 The question is whether we have the vision and leadership to support good 
decisions like those in Old Town and the courage to challenge short sighted 
decisions like the Governor's Club," said Horton.


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