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RE: E-M:/ Contract Zoning? strict rules or legal loophole

Enviro-Mich message from "Brad Garmon" <bradmec@voyager.net>

Rob, et al.

MEC worked with the contract zoning legislation with a couple of key values
in mind: providing communities with the tools to protect themselves from the
onslaught of unplanned and unwanted sprawl, and on supporting the rights of
citizens to direct land use decisions.

We worked hard to ensure that contract-based rezonings undertaken between
developers and local governments would remain open to public scrutiny, and
that such decisions could still be overturned by a referendum vote of the
people. It's also important to note that contract zoning only apply to
rezonings that would have to be applied for anyway, so they shouldn't open
new doors to unwanted "dirty" projects.

As someone mentioned already, part of the current problem is a
misunderstanding locally about the difference between rezonings and site
plan reviews. Since zoning regulations "go with the land" rather than being
specific to a project, developers can and do advance a desired rezoning
using site plan arguments, but are not obligated to actually build that
project. Once the land is rezoned, they can build anything that fits the new
zoning designation.

Contract zoning, by linking such rezonings to a specific contractual
project, we believe will give communities a better chance of holding a
developer's "feet to the fire" and make them deliver specific projects that
meet community interests, in exchange for being granted the rezoning. The
change provides more, rather than less, opportunity for communities to
demand and get the kinds of development they want, rather than the kind they

Community members, like always, must work to keep their elected officials
accountable, but this legislation offers more flexibility for bringing about
good land use (with some commensurate opportunity for evil) in terms of
creating more opportunities for mixed use housing and retail (a good
strategy for making vibrant communities) and for designing more compact,
walkable developments that protect adjacent open spaces (through Planned
Unit Developments).

We are not alone in this belief. The Michigan Land Use Leadership Council (a
collection of 26 of the state's land use related stakeholder groups, and
chaired by former Governor William Milliken) recommended this reform.
(Please see Chapter 6, Rec. 25, #8 - "Allowing aesthetic/design-oriented
'contract zoning' if mutually agreed to by the developer and local
government." You can read the entire leadership council report at
www.michganlanduse.org, or read about our work on this council and our
organization's priorities at www.mecprotects.org/landad.htm)


Brad B. Garmon
Land Programs Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
Ph: 517-487-9539
Fax: 517-487-9541
Email: bradmec@voyager.net

Michigan Environmental Council: "The most effective voice for the
environment in Michigan"
--Former Governor William G. Milliken

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