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SG-W:/ Fwd: Zoning, etc.
- Subject: SG-W:/ Fwd: Zoning, etc.
- From: Steve Bean <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 8 May 01 12:23:35 -0400
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an interesting account of the discussion at the luncheon. Any
thoughts? Do you have more to add, Conan?
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Date: 05/08 1:23 PM
Received: 05/08 11:25 AM
>MACKINAC CENTER TO CALL FOR LIMITED ZONING
>The best thing the state can do to direct land use is nothing, and it
>should give local units the power to do less as well, an urban policy
>analyst said Monday.
>Land use issues will be resolved more efficiently through the real estate
>market than with government planning or zoning, Sam Staley, director of
>the Urban Futures Program of the Reason Public Policy Institute, told
>attendees at a luncheon sponsored by the Mackinac Center for Public
>Policy. Mr. Staley is expected to reiterate those thoughts to the House
>Land Use and Environment and Local Government and Urban Policy committees
>Mr. Staley said the prime response to the problem of urban sprawl has been
>to try to regulate where development goes, but he said that ignores
>people's rights to make choices of where and how they will live.
>Local government groups agreed on the need for flexibility, but said the
>market often ignores other needs that residents and businesses may have.
>Mr. Staley argued that instead of trying to direct development, local
>governments should be sure that new developments do not affect the
>property rights of neighboring homeowners and businesses.
>"There can be market-oriented policy responses to the real problems caused
>by growth," Mr. Staley said. But he said defining "urban sprawl" was a
>And he said there were too many issues entering into selecting a housing
>or business location for government policies to adequately address the
>issue. "Democracy works horribly on complicated issues," he said.
>There are also some limits to what a democracy should be allowed to
>address, Mr. Staley said. "We don't want our neighbors' voting on
>everything we do," he said, adding that objections to developments are
>often based on misinformation or on aesthetic issues rather than the
>actual impact of the project.
>Rather than try to regulate where developments can go and how they should
>look, Mr. Staley said local and state governments should instead work to
>ensure that new developments do not infringe on the property rights of
>those who are already there.
>"If' we're concerned about open space, let's think about remedies specific
>to open space," he said. "If we're concerned about congestion, let's
>look at what the source of congestion is."
>Zoning does not solve those problems, it merely regulates where they will
>be, Mr. Staley said. "What zoning does is segregate uses," he
>said. "We don't know what those appropriate uses are."
>Local government groups agreed that plans and zoning needed to be flexible
>enough to address changes in the community. But they said eliminating
>zoning means eliminating some of the security people desire when they
>purchase a home or a business location.
>"Individuals when they move into a community want to know not only what's
>in their community, but what's going to be in their community," said Bill
>Anderson with the Michigan Townships Association. "If they move into a
>subdivision with a vacant lot they want to know whether that vacant lot's
>going to be a home, a factory or a school."
>Mr. Anderson said although some people move in assuming that the vacant
>lot will remain vacant, those issues can generally be addressed by showing
>people the community plan for their area.
>Said Gerry Griffin with the Michigan Association of Counties: "There has
>to be somebody making decisions on behalf of the benefit of the entire
>community. Somebody should be able to make those decisions that are made
>not just for the benefit of those doing the development."
>And Scott Schrager of the Michigan Municipal League said there are other
>factors besides the market, which cannot plan in advance.
>"The market needs to be respected, but not elevated to a position that
>it's supreme," he said. "Communities try to plan in a comprehensive way
>land use decisions over a number of years, decades."
>Mr. Staley said there is a planning element to the real estate
>market. "There's an underlying current that the real estate market is
>uncoordinated and unplanned," he said. "There is a market order, and it
>generally follows that order."
>But Mr. Staley said the civil law concept of nuisance would be a better
>basis for addressing the "spillover" effects of a new development than
>segregating placement of those developments. He said local governments
>could, in order to look out for the property rights of neighboring
>property owners, require that the development plan address expected
>effects like traffic and storm water.
>Local governments also can control the rate and direction of growth by
>making new developments pay the costs of expanding infrastructure to serve
>those developments. "The easiest thing you can do is fully cost out your
>infrastructure," he said.
>Conan Smith, land programs director for the Michigan Environmental
>Council, agreed with the idea of impact fees for new developments to cover
>roads, water and sewer improvements, but he said Mr. Staley's plan as
>presented Monday may not cover the ongoing costs of maintaining that new
>Mr. Smith disagreed with Mr. Staley that improving public transit would
>not reduce the need for road improvements. Although he acknowledged that
>many people, even those who live close to a destination, are driving to
>get there, he said they have said in various polls that they would like
>the option of mass transit.
>"Sam's approach is to build more and wider roads," he said. "We can't go
>on this never ending binge of road building."
>Mr. Staley said there was no evidence that public transit consistently
>reduced the number of private passenger vehicles on the road. He said on
>the East Coast, such as in Washington, rail systems had reduced commuter
>vehicles. But he said a similar rail system had no effect in San Francisco.
>Any efforts to use zoning or historic districts to maintain the character
>of a neighborhood were doomed, Mr. Staley said. "You cannot preserve the
>character of a community because you cannot prevent people from moving,"
>Mr. Staley said not all of the current programs to control development are
>out of line. He said the PA 116 program to give tax credits to farmers
>agreeing not to develop their land "is great".
>The more recent practice of purchasing development rights also works, but
>he said it is best only for large open spaces. And he warned it should
>not be used where market forces would be able to push a developer into
>leaving sections of land open. "That's the market trend anyway is more
>open space," he said.
>Even purchase of development rights could be better handled through
>private land trusts rather than the current public trusts because he said
>the former are more flexible in being able to trade land for the best open
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