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Re: E-M:/ High Density Developments to Preserve Agricultural Land???

Enviro-Mich message from "William Tobler" <williamtobler@critterswoods.org>

I agree with what you say Cynthia.  These are all useful tools to give 
more options to Planning Commissions and developers to have better 
growth and a variety of growth.  However, none of these tools show much 
effectiveness in stopping growth or even slowing growth, at least not 
in an area under heavy pressure.  I get angry when they are purported 
as such.

I could argue that the cluster and open space planning will actually 
accelerate growth.  By allowing twice the density on half the land and 
preserving the rest as an "open space", the costs to developers and to 
future homeowners is reduced by virtue of reduced need for costly 
infrastructure on the parcel under development.  This will promote more 
of the same.

In some regards this is good.  Less resources are wasted (good), and I 
agree that for some, the result is far more attractive (as Bonnie 
described).  It also gives an option to the community, and I'm in favor 
of options.  But if the goal was to preserve rural, country and 
farmland, in my opinion, it is not good, and these tools are completely 

In the case of my township, we are pressured with the tidal wave of 
development on 3 borders.  In two cases, virtually all of the available 
land has been converted already.  We are NOT faced with where we will 
put the next 10% population growth.  We are faced with conversion of 
50% of our township into urban/suburban areas in the next 5 years, 
whether or not we use any or all of the above mentioned tools. It isn't 
because we haven't been proactive with our Land Use Plan.  We are 
already in court with several developers, and I expect there will be 
more in the future.

If we use the cluster/open space tool for example, we will have 
alternating 50 acre patches of extremely high density, and then a 50 
acre piece of "open space".  One after another, from one end of the 
township to the other.  That's why I said these tools aren't functional 
to preserve rural/country life.  That's why I said it will simply 
provide a nicer urban environment.  The end effect is almost the same - 
the farmland and rural lifestyle is forever converted and lost.

Maybe we should plan CAFOs on those alternating patches of open 
spaces?  :-))))

Hey, a new planning tool has been invented!

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from "Cynthia  Price" <skyprice@iserv.net>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> The cluster and open space bill last year (2 years ago now?) was a
> meaningful attempt to give planning authorities another tool to 
> negative impacts of unmanaged growth. Coordinated and regional 
planning are
> two more, as others have mentioned. In addition, in my response to the
> survey sent me by the Land Use Leadership Council, I commented that 
one of
> the barriers to successful planning is the mandate that all townships 
> plan for all uses.
> I can tell you that in Bonnie's township, the open space ordinance 
> they had in place even before the state bill was passed) is very 
useful. On
> the other hand I agree that it won't protect the character of a 
> that's completely rural, and I think that needs to be considered with 
> seriousness. Bonnie and I and most of the United Growth for Kent 
> members worked very hard to pass a Purchase of Development Rights 
program in
> Kent County, and that offers another tool. But none of these is 
complete in
> and of itself. We need to face a number of difficult challenges to our
> current lifestyles and expectations in order to avoid some very nasty
> consequences that I think may be coming sooner than most people 
predict. On
> the other hand, we can't start from any point other than the one we
> currently find ourselves at.
> I hope that people are intending to come out in strong numbers for 
> Land Use Council hearings. In Grand Rapids and other places, they're 
> Monday, April 28. This is such an important issue.
> Cynthia Price
> ----------
> >From: "William Tobler" <williamtobler@critterswoods.org>
> >To: "Anne P. Couture" <couture@jasnetworks.net>, William Tobler
> <WilliamTobler@critterswoods.org>, enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
> >Subject: Re: E-M:/ High Density Developments to Preserve 
Agricultural Land???
> >Date: Thu, Apr 24, 2003, 10:51 AM
> >
> >---------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Enviro-Mich message from "William Tobler" 
> >---------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >I don't agree.
> >The key word is "implemented properly".
> >I have been on the Planning Commission for 20 years, and I know very 
> >well, first hand, what is going on.  My interest is preservation of 
> >rural lifestyles.  It is sadly comical when the leading Land Use 
> >Planners come in and propose a 15 foot greenbelt buffer to isolate 
> >incompatible uses from each other.  And they do it with a deadly 
> >serious attitude, like it means anything.  The advanced land 
> >preservation plans that I have seen all been written from an urban 
> >citizen's viewpoint, and quite frankly, I don't see them as very 
> >attractive or useful.
> >
> >The developers come in and buy 100 acres.  Then they intensively 
> >develop 50, and leave the other 50 as "open space", or whatever you 
> >want to call it.
> >
> >When you are done, you have an urban park.  There is absolutely 
> >rural or "country" about it, and other than market gardens, there is 
> >farm land preserved.  To some, this may be better than having a lot 
> >large lots and lawns, but in either case, "country and rural life" 
> >not preserved.  PDR is a great concept, but not exactly affordable 
> >its present form, and also not in reality affecting very much in the 
> >way of stopping conversion of non-developed lands.
> >
> >There is nothing being done about what the real problem is.  This is 
> >economy (national and/or local) and personal attitudes based on 
> >consumption and continuing growth at all costs, and getting someone 
> >else to pay for "services" other than those citizens demanding 
> >It won't stop until ALL of the resources are consumed, and then that 
> >miserable status will be maintained.
> >
> >I don't look forward to it.
> >
> >Urban areas need to be enhanced so that individuals that actually 
> >prefer urban life will happily choose to live there (and not be 
> >to), and not necessitate their flight and creation of new urban 
> >in the country at the expense of the country.
> >
> >
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Cluster, or Open Space development, if implemented properly, does 
> >> have to diminish the rural nature of a community.  Rather, if 
> >on 
> >> conservation planning principles, designed to preserve and enhance 
> >> natural features while devoting much less land to manicured lawns, 
> >a 
> >> good way to allow for some rural growth while maintaining the 
> >> character.  
> >> 
> >> William Tobler wrote:
> >> 
> >> > I live in an area that is still relatively rural, or at least 
> >> > urban folks think so.  I actually would prefer to live in an 
area a 
> >> > heck of lot more rural than is available.
> >> >  
> >> > The problem for a rural township within a commuting distance 
> >> > of employment is the clustering proposal will quickly transform 
> >to 
> >> > anything but rural.  The factors that keep urban and suburban 
> >people 
> >> > away are:
> >> > 1)  Yuk, you live on a dirt road?
> >> > 2)  Echk, you drink water that comes out of the ground?
> >> > 3)  Ooh, where does this go when I flush?
> >> > 4)  Ach, you go how far to buy cheez doodles?
> >> >  
> >> > Creating the cluster home situation takes away all of these 
> >> > deterrents.  It would be one thing if we were building it for 
> >> > township's residents to live in at their choice.  But instead, 
> >are 
> >> > inviting every one else to move in and take away from you what 
> >> > hold dear.  If you build it, they will come, and in short order, 
> >they 
> >> > will have the local votes to take away the rest, and they will.  
> >I've 
> >> > spent my entire life moving from one area or another that has 
> >become a 
> >> > place that I wouldn't even want to visit.
> >> >  
> >> > As far developers paying their way, forget it.  They don't and 
> >> > won't.  Not even close.  It is a real struggle to get the 
> >developers 
> >> > to even build and pay for the amenities that they promised to 
> >into 
> >> > their developments in the first place.  Our legislators won't 
> >it 
> >> > either.  How many years have they had the opportunity to fix the 
> >> > inequity of MHP developments?
> >> >  
> >> > The only solution is to address urban and suburban flight, and 
> >> > create yet more new urban and suburban sprawl.
> >> >  
> >> >  
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >
> >-- 
> >
> >
> >
> >==============================================================
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> >and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   
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> ==============================================================
> ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
> and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives 
> http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/
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