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Re: E-M:/ Open letter to General Motors

Enviro-Mich message from Blair J Mc Gowan <blairj@gatecom.com>

Dear Aretta,

I thought your rationale why GM should not develop the 1000 acres was
damn convincing. Also, one would think that overwhelming negative public
sentiment would influence a company whose primary business is selling
products at the retail level to consumers. 
Suprisingly, but apparently NOT.

This spring, Ford Chairman, Bill Ford told those of us at the "Downriver
Summit" that in every single one of the over 100 international markets
where Ford sold its cars, Ford marketing people found two strongly held
attitudes -- 1) The people in those markets wanted companies that
treated the employees well;  and 2) they wanted companies that were
environmentally sensitive.

Perhaps it may take a Solomon to identify which of the auto companies is
the lousiest environmental citizen.  But I am thinking that the exercise
in making that determination might be very interesting.

If auto manufacturers had to sweat out an annual report card from
national, state and/or regional environmentalists,  and if they knew
that their sales would be effected directly by the growing number of
citizens who hold "environmental values", maybe referenda and logic
would be more influential.

For starters, I suggest visiting the owners of the  GM dealers in 
the area, and suggesting to them how their sales might be effected if 
this behemoth is placed in the community.  They will become wonderful 
behind-the-scenes advocates for the cause; and they probably know 
how to get their voices heard too.

Best of luck,

Blair J. Mc Gowan
Grosse Ile
Aretta Schils wrote:
Enviro-Mich message from "Aretta Schils" <squaw@provide.net>

 A friend and I spent a wonderful day attending the Tour de Sprawl in
 Webster Township.  I met a couple of new friends and they suggested
 that I post our open letter to General Motors concerning the auto
 distribution yard that is proposed from Milan Township.  So here it is:
 September 13, 2000
 Percy Barnevik
 Chairman, Board of Directors
 General Motors Corporation
 300 Renaissance Center
 P.O. Box 300
 Detroit, Michigan 48265-3000
 Dear Mr. Chairman,
 We are writing to share our deep concern about the behavior of General
 Motors  with regard to the residents of Milan Township, Michigan.  
 The people of  Milan Township and Monroe County have clearly and 
 repeatedly said "NO" to the Ann Arbor Railroad Properties/GM 
 Intermodal Distribution Center in Milan Township, yet work 
 continues on GM's behalf to force the project into our community.
 Let us share with you a short overview of the proposed project:
 On behalf of General Motors, AAR Properties has been trying for 2 years
 to  develop the country's largest auto-distribution center in rural  
 Milan  Township,  Monroe County, Michigan.  AAR Properties is a wholly 
 owned real estate company of the Ann Arbor Railroad.  AAR Properties 
 is seeking to build this railyard on approximately 1,000 acres of 
 prime agricultural land.  They plan to operate 24 hours a day, 
 7 days a week, introducing the noise and light pollution of a 
 1,000 acre industrial complex into a rural neighborhood  with no 
 transitional zoning.  They propose to build a 405 acre parking lot
 to store up to 50,000 new GM vehicles, causing storm water 
 run-off, flooding and water table problems.  AAR Properties 
 projects an increase of 900-1400 daily truck trips (50 trucks an 
 hour at peak times) to the traffic volume on US-23, causing air 
 quality concerns from diesel fumes as well as road safety
 issues.  They estimate daily train traffic would increase by 8 to 
 12 train trips, blocking  essential emergency vehicle routes 
 and causing traffic delays.  A fiscal impact study done  by the 
 Michigan Land Use Institute found minimal or no economic benefit to
 the township or its residents.
 On January 13, 1999, Patrick O'Meara, president and owner of the Ann
 Arbor  Railroad assured the Milan Township Board of Trustees and  
 community members that AAR Properties would proceed with their plans to 
 build this site only  with the support of the community.  Milan 
 Township and Monroe County  residents have repeatedly turned down this 
 On July 14, 1999, the Monroe County Planning Commission voted down a
 rezoning recommendation 6-1.
 Following the Township Board's 3-2 vote approving the rezoning, area
 residents gathered approximately 10 times the petition signatures 
 necessary to bring  the rezoning issue to a referendum vote of the 
 On February 22, 2000 the voters in Milan Township turned down the
 rezoning request at the polls with the largest voter turnout in  
 township history.
 On July 10, 2000, the Monroe County Road Commission refused a request
 by AAR Properties for a technical review of road improvements.
 On July 25, 2000, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
 denied an AAR Properties application for wetlands removal.
 On August 8, 2000, four local candidates who publicly opposed the
 proposed railyard won seats for the five person township board in the  
 primary election. These candidates are running unopposed in the  
 November election.
 In spite of this clear message, AAR Properties, on behalf of GM,
 continues to disregard the will of the people.  Railroad officials are 
 proceeding with surveying work at the site.  Currently they are also  
 working with state officials to remove this farmland from the Farmland 
 Preservation Act as they try to move forward with  their plans against 
 the wishes of township and county residents.  AAR Properties and  GM 
 are clearly attempting to thwart the democratic process.
We believe we speak on behalf of the majority of area residents, many
of whom currently work for General Motors, are retired from a GM plant 
or drive GM  vehicles. We do not understand why General Motors is  
trying to circumvent the democratic  process that is the foundation for 
our country.  We do not  understand how a  company  that prides itself 
on its good community relations could decide to force its way into a 
rural community that has clearly said NO.  We do not understand how a  
company that views itself as a "Green Business" could consider 
destroying 1,000 acres of prime farmland and open space against the 
wishes of the community.
 We believe that General Motors should respect the democratic wishes of
 the people of Milan Township and stop moving forward with this project. 
 You have the opportunity before you to show the people of Michigan
that  General Motors is a  company that values its partnership with
local   communities by responding positively to the wishes of local
residents  to protect farmland and open spaces and  preserve  their
rural quality  of life.  We look forward to your response.
 On behalf of Milan Area Concerned Citizens
 James McCrae Hokenson
 Carol McCrae-Hokenson
 Mary E. B. Carek
 cc:  Members of the Board of Directors for General Motors
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