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E-M:/ Township pushes for controversial development despite publicprotest



Township pushes for controversial
development despite public protest

Elmwood moves to approve Lincoln Meadows
through back-door process that skirts court's order


ELMWOOD TOWNSHIP (May 2, 2002) - In apparent defiance of a Circuit Court order, Elmwood Township officials have scheduled yet another hearing for the controversial Lincoln Meadows development. Stewart Investment Group, developers of the property, and township planner Bill Swanson have filed requests for clarification and interpretation of the Township Zoning Ordinance with the Township Zoning Board of Appeals. A preliminary hearing was held on April 17, and a final meeting will take place at the Township Hall on Monday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. to decide the matter.

In its decision of March 13, 2002, the Thirteenth Circuit Court ordered the township to follow one of two possible courses when ruling on the second suit brought by Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth (ECSG). Action by the Zoning Board of Appeals was not one of the options ordered by the court. (The entire ruling is posted on the citizens' group website at www.ecsg.org)

In assisting the Board of Appeals at the preliminary hearing, Elmwood Township Attorney Ed Roy suggested that modifying the text of the Township Zoning Ordinance was one option open to the board. Roy indicated that he would help the board create that language. Roy unsuccessfully defended the Township in the second Lincoln Meadows suit. He also recently represented investors in Bahia Vista,, another controversial development underway in the township.

Pei-shan VanZoeren, a member of ECSG, observed the April 17 meeting. "This is a very unusual experience, to sit and watch while the defendant parties in this case make their arguments for a second time in a meeting they control," she said. "The only slight difference here is that those who made the winning arguments in court play no part, and of course there is no judge."

The Elmwood citizens' group encourages the public to attend the May 6 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to "observe first-hand the Enron-like special interests at work."

The group's approximately 200 members note that the recent efforts by developers in Elmwood to skirt the controls of the township's master plan put the township on track for sprawling growth, higher taxes and unplanned traffic.

"This is a state-wide issue of quick profit versus long-term planning, and we're seeing it happen in our own backyards," VanZoeren said.



END


Recognizing the unique and precious character of our area, Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to promoting sensible growth in the township. Growth and the preservation of Elmwood's rural character are not incompatible, and ECSG works to provide resources and citizen input to township agencies to allow for the planning and decisions that will allow development to occur without compromising the area's natural beauty or putting new burdens on existing services and taxes.

www.ecsg.org

Contact:

Steve Van Zoeren
Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth
(231) 933-0093
www.ecsg.org

or Erik Saxon
ECSG
(231) 929-0979

Chris Bzdok
Olson & Bzdok, P.C.
(231) 946-0044