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SG-W:/ Re: Victories

Okay, Jeff.  I will take this opportunity to share my concerns for
Webster Township.  
As you may know, our township declared a moratorium on development last
May, and the planning commission has been meeting  trying to come up
with changes in zoning and master plan to 
1) maintain the rural quality of our township
2) preserve agricultural land
3) safeguard the interests of the farmers who are retiring and need to
sell their land
4) safeguard natural features
5) avoid lawsuits with developers
I am impressed with John Kingsley, the planning commissioner, who is
himself a developer but also is trying to represent the interests of the
community and who has spent a great deal of time looking for ways to
accomplish the above.  And the planning commission is primarily made up
of farmers but they are trying to look at issues from all points of
But we are trying to solve problems without all the information that we
need.  Someone from the Washtenaw Road Commission attended the
worksession last night and he was helpful, but we need to have more
people "in the know" attend these meetings to share ideas.   I don't
believe that we really know what is possible.  Though we hear that
California has charged developers with impact fees, apparently this is
illegal in Michigan.  One planning commission member suggested charging
some kind of assessment fee which would be put toward infrastructure
costs for developments which would be graduated if developers allowed
for more open space.  But it was thought that it would be illegal. When
transfer of development rights was brought up, it appears that in a
township where wells and septic predominate, this is not practical. 
Boy, it is complicated!  We have heard that Dexter Twp to the west of us
recently passed zoning for agriculture being 5 acres per household and
that the residents didn't like it and are doing a referendum.  And one
household per five acres has been described by many as a different
rendition of urban sprawl.  I as a member of APRON end up staring
bewildered at the planning commission who looks back at me and the
farmers and other residents attending the work sessions in the same way
and we don't know which way to go.  How do we keep from recreating a
Canton in our little rural township and yet preserve everybody's rights
in a state dominated by developer mentality?  Joan Martin of watershed
expertise has offered natural features master plan language which has
been helpful but I think we need more ideas.  Now it is also true that
my township is pretty fiercely independent and the planning commission
doesn't seem to like to ask for help either.  However!!  They have
accepted me into their midst and I don't even sport the XY chromosome!!
The next working session will occur next Monday at Webster Township
Hall.  If you have something to offer, please come.  We are at the point
of trying to safeguard our township and create sustainable development,
but I very humbly submit that we don't know how.  

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