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E-M:/ Unveiling the Ann Arbor Area Parks and Greenbelt ballot proposal



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Enviro-Mich message from Anne Heise <aheise@wccnet.org>
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In recent years we've won two ballot initiatives to buy natural areas in
Ann Arbor and around Washtenaw County.  This has worked great, as many of
our most valuable natural areas have already been protected from
development.

However, I imagine you've noticed that uncontrolled sprawl is still raging
throughout the countryside. Our existing programs cannot be used to
protect most of the open space that is threatened in our area, especially
the open space that consists of farms.

We need a better way to successfully protect enough open space to preserve
the character of our community.

The Ann Arbor Area Parks and Greenbelt Program will be unveiled this
Friday, August 8th.  This ballot proposal, if approved by Ann Arbor voters
in November, would expand the mission of the existing Park Acquisition
Program to protect land within a wide greenbelt around the city, as well
as land in the city. The Parks and Greenbelt program will extend the life
of the millage that voters passed by an overwhelming margin in 1999 in
order to generate up to $30 million in new funds, which would leverage an
additional $50 million in matching funds.  The Ann Arbor city tax rate
will not be raised.

The Parks and Greenbelt Program will protect about 10,000 acres of natural
areas, open space, and farmland through a combination of the outright
purchase of land and the purchase of development rights.  The program is
expected to draw significant matching funds from townships, and our
County, state and federal governments.  Ann Arbor Township trustees are
expected to put a similar initiative on the fall ballot in order to raise
funds for purchasing development rights.  By pooling funds from several
sources, we can preserve open space "on the cheap".  This is what real
regional cooperation to stop sprawl is all about.

How can you help make this a reality? Please join a group of
environmental, business, government, and community leaders, who will voice
their support for the greenbelt program at a special press conference, led
by Mayor John Hieftje, on Friday, August 8, at 11 a.m., in the Ann Arbor
City Council Chambers (second floor of City Hall at the corner of Huron
and Fifth).  This public discussion about sprawl and how to stop it should
be fascinating.  Your presence will help send the message that saving open
space to stop sprawl is very important to a broad cross section of our
community.

I hope to see you there.

Doug Cowherd
Co-chair, Sierra Club-Huron Valley Group


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