FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Conan Smith, MEC: 517-487-9539
Brian Imus, PIRGIM: 734-717-6597
LANSING—Curb sprawl! Save local Mom-and-Pop stores, and protect your scenic rivers and farmland! Build bike trails, make a “hip and cool” downtown and add affordable houses with front porches to your quiet, tree-lined streets! Today, thanks to fresh new legislation shepherded through a Republican-dominated legislature by the Michigan Environmental Council and the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM), you can!
More than a symbolic keepsake, HB4284 is true progressive land use reform. With your help, it can bring regional cooperation to an ugly lawsuit, land use fight, wetland destruction, or intergovernmental fiasco near you! The law empowers local governments to form legally binding land use plans with their neighboring governments. With Governor Granholm’s signature officially attached, it’s a rare treasure indeed, signaling a long-awaited shift in priorities in a state that has failed to produce significant land use reform in more than three decades.
“During three years of fighting off the legislative roadblocks and big-money bullies, the Michigan Environmental Council and PIRGIM never gave up on the idea of coordinated planning,” said Conan Smith, Land Programs Director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “We kept listening to the people who are suffering from competition-based local planning—like the children in Detroit, the farmers in Ottawa County, and local businesspeople stuck on vacated downtown mainstreets. We brought this legislation to Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) before reforming land use in Michigan became such a popular idea.”
“I hope this is the first of many actions the state takes to help locals protect their communities,” said Brian Imus of PIRGIM. “How many acres of precious land were lost while this legislation was being debated? We don’t need more studies or more research; we need more cooperation and regional planning. These are tools local governments have been trying to utilize without legal basis for years, and those local officials would be the first to tell you that regional cooperation is the only way to make land use planning work for everyone—not just the townships that throw away their farmland in exchange for another short-lived strip mall or upscale housing development.”
Try “Joint Planning” for yourself and see how effective cooperation can be. Just visit your local planning board meeting today and demand that your elected officials stop squabbling with their neighbors and kowtowing to Big Development mega-projects for pittance increases in residential tax base! Tell them to plan cooperatively, and bring the full force of all the resources in your region to the table to create a land use and economic plan that protects your farms, forests, home values and downtown mainstreets.