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SG-W:/ Bluffs


Ken did a nice job capturing the key points that swayed the Ann Arbor
Planning Commission to vote against the Autumn Ridge development and save
the Bluffs.  I've never seen a better community-organized effort to
protect nature.  

One risk of this impressive account is that it may look like it's pretty
hard to do. Well, there is no question that it took a great deal of
effort.  Over 2 years, I'd guess it took easily 1500 person-hours to mount
this campaign. And we are far from done, as the developer has announced
his intentions to take his plan to the City Council.  Even if he's
defeated again (and we'll be there to get this done) he can bring back an
"improved" project or sue the City.

But I'd like to point out that this tremendous effort that - so far - has
shut down one of the biggest developers in SE Michigan started with less
than a full handfull of people, none of whom had *any* technical
background relevant to saving this property.  Further, all had full-time
jobs - some an hour from Ann Arbor.  And none of us knew each other before
we took this on.

The interesting lesson here is that just us regular folks have a good
chance to stop a major developer despite starting with virtually nothing
except a sincere commmitment to work hard and work together.  I suspect
that for every development worthy of being stopped in this County there
exists a similar group of people who could give the developer a real fight
if they really wanted to.  It doesn't take more than this.  Any hard
working group can get some technical help, political leverage, and advice
from people who have been there.  Maybe not enough to *guarantee* victory,
but enough to make it a contest that you may win.

Friends of the Bluffs haven't won yet.  This developer hasn't dropped his
$60 million dollar dream, and the land isn't permanently preserved.  But
we've got victories and momentum, and we're in this for as long as it
takes.  I wouldn't place any bets on seeing an "Autumn Ridge" sign
anywhere near the Bluffs, unless the developer decides to give the
property to the City in exchange for putting this name on the Public Park


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