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SG-W:/ local development

I thought this analysis from a  City of Novi Planning Commissioner might be
of interest to people on this list.  It's from an enviro-mich discussion.
Mary Beth

>Sender: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
>Precedence: bulk
>Reply-To: Andrew Mutch <amutch@waterford.lib.mi.us>
>List-Name: Enviro-Mich
>X-Loop: enviro-mich
>Enviro-Mich message from Andrew Mutch <amutch@waterford.lib.mi.us>
>I wanted to respond to one comment you made:
>"If we had our way, our Board would love to be able to say to the
>developers that we're full enough, thank you, go somewhere else.
>Unfortunately, everyone has the right to develop their property to its
>highest and best use."
>Although many developers like to claim that they are entitled to "the
>highest and best use" of their property, actually, they are entitled to
>the use of their property according to the zoning laws of your community.
>This isn't always "the highest and best use" of the property but the
>courts are supposed to give deference to local zoning laws unless the laws
>can be shown to be so restrictive as to be confiscatory.  Otherwise,
>anyone who wanted to develop their property would claim that they should
>be entitled to commercial zoning or high-density residential development.
>So, your community has every right to implement reasonable zoning laws to
>protect the health, safety and welfare of the community [and to protect
>the property-rights of other landowners].  Your community also has the
>right to regulate development so that the rights of the entire community
>are protected - no one property owner has the right to develop without
>regulation to the detriment to the community as a whole.
>It sounds like one of the problems is your status as a general law
>township.  In Novi [a charter City], site condominiums must meet the same
>standards as subdivisions.  As all of these standards are covered by City
>ordinances, they effectively prevent developers from circumventing the
>protections of the ordinances by going the site condo route [but this
>wasn't always the case and we used to be in the same boat that you were].
>I don't know if general law townships can adopt their own subdivision or
>site condo ordinances.
>We also have both woodlands and wetlands ordinances that are fairly
>protective of the environmental resources in the community.  These
>ordinances generally require any activities involving regulated woodlands
>and wetlands to be reviewed before they are approved.  This ensures that
>people are not indiscriminately chopping down every tree in town.  It
>doesn't always stop the degredation of these resources but it does give
>some protection.
>Finally, effective Master-planning can help you at least manage growth
>effectively.  Too many communities have no idea what scope of development
>their current zoning ordinances allow.  Ypsilanti Township recently
>"downzoned" large sections of residential areas after their Master
>Planning process identified that the local roads would be overwhelmed if
>development continued based on the then-current zoning standards.   Novi
>went through the same process a few years ago.  Most importantly, it can
>allow you to concentrate your growth in areas that can support it and away
>from areas that can not or should not be growing.  Too many rural and
>suburban township are allowing scattershot growth which is wreaking havoc
>on the environment and local taxpayers.
>Andrew Mutch
>City of Novi Planning Commissioner
>Bonnie Shupe wrote:
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Enviro-Mich message from "Bonnie Shupe" <BONNIES@cannontwp.org>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> A couple answers - no tree ordinance yet.  Our ordinance committee that
>>is working on the stormwater ordinance is looking at some tree ordinances
>>from other areas.  Our concern is that once we've approved a PUD, we have
>>control over tree removal and other excavating, but any land owner by
>>right (state given) can harvest the trees on his property.  We're trying
>>to see if there is a way to prevent that.
>> This leads into the issue about state laws hampering our ability to
>>protect the environment.  A couple examples - the plat act, the land
>>division laws are both state laws.  We have to abide by them.  We
>>recently had a developer choose to develop using  site condominimum
>>regulations.  The rules governing these developments cannot (by state
>>law) be any more stingent than the subdivision act.  Because we are a
>>general law township, the state does not allow us to enforce soil erosion
>>- we must rely on the County Road Commission. (we're working to change
>>that legislation).  Mobile home parks are allowed to go in almost by
>>right.  Now it looks like intensive livestock operations may also get
>>that opportunity.  The State limits much of what we can refuse based on
>>property rights laws.
>> If we had our way, our Board would love to be able to say to the
>>developers that we're full enough, thank you, go somewhere else.
>>Unfortunately, everyone has the right to develop their property to its
>>highest and best use.  We certainly didn't come up with that idea.  We
>>have the task of making sure there is a balance between protection of the
>>environment and the rights of the property owners to develop their land.
>>We do the best we can with the laws we have to work with.
>> Bonnie Shupe, Cannon Township Clerk/Watershed Administrator
>> >
>ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
>and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
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Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104

734-663-2400 ext 108
734-663-2414 (fax)

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