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E-M:/ Elmwood Twp increases dev density by 10x



Township Vote Allows 10x More Development Density in Ag/Open Space
Elmwood approves amendments without public notice or public hearing


ELMWOOD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (June 28, 2002) - Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth filed papers this morning announcing its intent to gather the petition signatures required to call for a referendum election on zoning ordinance amendments voted upon by the Elmwood Township Board of Trustees in June. The amendment opens land currently zoned for agriculture and open space to ten times the currently allowed development potential.

"With Monday's publication of these supposed amendments, we were left with little choice but to begin the referendum process," said Steve VanZoeren of the citizen's group.

"The procedure followed by the board has been extremely unusual, and can only be construed as an active intention to keep discussion on these amendments out of the public forum. Unless challenged by an intent to petition for referendum, these amendments could take effect within seven days of publication," Van Zoeren said.

The amendments became a central issue in a suit brought against the township by Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth. The court ruled in favor of the citizens' group, noting that "...(these) 'housekeeping' amendments were not officially adopted and did not become effective." The amendments, if enacted, would be an unprecedented increase in housing densities - up to ten times more than currently permitted in the township's Agricultural/Open Space District.

The controversial amendments were originally discussed by the township in 1997. During its regular meeting on June 10 the township board voted to "re-affirm its intent to pass the housekeeping amendments." No public notice had been given that the amendments were to be discussed, and no public hearing took place before the board's vote.

The township had earlier referred the matter of the amendments to the township's zoning board of appeals. That action sparked a third suit against the township by Elmwood Citizens. The group asked the court to find the township in contempt of the court's orders directing the township to either follow the zoning ordinance as written, or to properly amend it. The township's vote of "re-affirmation" was followed by the publication of the amendments as an accomplished addition to the zoning ordinance on Monday, June 24.

Asked if the apparent irregularity of the township's actions in approving the amendments didn't open the way for further litigation, Erik Saxon, also of the citizen's group said: "The township has ignored, delayed or sidestepped every remedy ordered by the court to effect the clean-up of its approach to following zoning law. It's time for the voters of Elmwood Township to have a say in how these matters are decided."

END

CONTACT:

Steve VanZoeren
Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth
231.933-0093

or

Erik Saxon
Elmwood Citizens for Sensible Growth
231.929-0979


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