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E-M:/ House Democratic Land Use Task Force Press Conference





Michigan House Democrats Chris Kolb and Patricia Lockwood will hold a  press
conference on Thursday, November 1, 2001 11:00 a.m. in Room 161 of the
Capitol Building on the release of the House Democratic Land Use Task Force
Report.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE			CONTACT: Rep. Chris Kolb
Wednesday, October 31, 2001					(517)
373-2577
www.housedems.com							Rep.
Patricia Lockwood
	
(517) 373-1780


House Democrats Unveil Solutions to Help State Address
Urban Sprawl, Traffic Congestion and Farmland Preservation

	LANSING - Solutions to help the state address urban sprawl, traffic
congestion, farmland preservation, and better ways to manage development
were unveiled today at the Capitol by the House Democratic Land Use Task
Force. The task force co-chairs, State Representatives Chris Kolb (D-Ann
Arbor) and Patricia Lockwood (D-Fenton), released the group's report and
legislative recommendations. 
	"There is a growing concern in our state among environmentalists,
farmers, locally elected officials and property owners that Michigan's lack
of a comprehensive land use strategy is hurting our state," Kolb said. "Our
recommendations address many of their concerns and offer workable solutions
to the looming land use crisis in our state."
	"If unchecked land development continues, we will lose too much of
our open space, farmland, and forestland," said Lockwood. "The very assets
that Michigan residents point to as quality of life benefits - beautiful
countryside and majestic forests - are being eaten up by uncontrolled
development."
	The task force report, developed following a series of public
hearings around state hotspots for urban sprawl, highlights several
legislative recommendations to help better coordinate land use in Michigan.
They include:
*	Change to a use-based tax system on agricultural land that enables
the land to be taxed at its current, rather than its best, use. 

*	Require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for loss of farmland
when public funds are spent on new or improved infrastructure to help assess
the "real" cost of the infrastructure.

*	Allow the Natural Resources Trust Fund monies to be used for the
purchase development rights program if farmers are willing to give up some
public access, hunting, and fishing rights in exchange. This will preserve
valuable farmland and offer expanded recreational opportunities for the
public.

*	Provide an income tax credit for open space and easements up to 20
percent of the property taxes paid to the state on open space and farmland
that has been permanently protected from development. 

*	Use purchase installment contracts for the purchase of development
rights that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to purchase land
over time. This will increase flexibility of funding and ultimately allow
the department to secure more acreage.

*	Institute a Rural Legacy Program that redirects existing state funds
into a focused and dedicated land preservation program specifically designed
to limit the impact of sprawl on our agricultural lands and natural
resources. 

*	Create the Rural Michigan Program, patterned after the successful
Pennsylvania program to help preserve and promote the rural lifestyle.

*	Require local communities to have open space zoning ordinances to
encourage clustering of housing units and to provide open space in new
developments.

*	Encourage neighborhood associations based on the Downtown
Development Authority model to undertake community improvements and
beautification projects.

*	Assess impact fees for developers because new developments often
need new services, such as roads, sewers, water and electricity, that
existing residents are forced to provide.

*	Allow mixed zoning that allows developers to include a variety of
uses in new developments, such as mixing residential and commercial sites.

*	Pass a constitutional amendment on gas tax distribution providing
that 90 percent of gas tax revenues are not automatically earmarked for road
building.

*	Create a "close to work" income tax deduction to encourage people to
live close to their jobs which would help reduce traffic and help revitalize
our urban centers.

*	Establish a Commission on State Land Use Policies to develop,
through public participation, statewide land use goals and priorities.

"Our list of recommendations is a place where we should start talking about
what kind of place we want Michigan to become in the next few decades," Kolb
said. "Change in our land use patterns will not occur overnight, and this
list of recommendations will help us achieve the long-term goal of making
Michigan a more livable place."
"Action on promoting better land use in our state is long overdue," Lockwood
added. "Our plan would give local officials a 'tool box' to help make
comprehensive and coordinated land use plans that ensure Michigan's quality
of life is not threatened."
The Land Use Task Force was one of several Quality of Life task forces
assembled by House Democratic Leader Kwame Kilpatrick to take a closer look
at the issues Michigan residents feel impact their quality of life. 

###



***********************************************************************
"Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition."
***********************************************************************
Dusty Fancher
Transportation and Land Use Policy Specialist
Michigan Environmental Council
phone 517-487-9539
fax 517-487-9541
 

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