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Re: SG-W:/ Proposal B

Bill and others,

After doing more reading on the issue (thank you all for the links!) I'm
coming around to supporting it. On a personal level, this proposal will
only cost me $50 a year, and I have to think that realistically, even if
only 20 acres of land are saved, it is worth it. I mean, I'd *love* to
have more than that saved, and for the money to be spent wisely, and with
matching funds from the townships and all that - but it comes down to the
fact that even one drop in the bucket is better than nothing at all.

I still hope for a more comprehensive and thorough plan to slow sprawl or
change the form of growth entirely. I wish this was the first of many
proposals that came out of such a comprehensive plan. But it isn't - it is
one shot at a huge problem, and no one seems where we go from here. I
really hope that a success with this ballot proposal will propel us to
tackle even more issues like it! There is so much we can do once we get

Bill, I realize that the Mayor must have met with Planning Commission
after my term was over. But I went through the minutes, and he never
appeared at any recorded meeting, which means he must have been at the
working session on August 12th. Is that correct? If the Mayor was there,
my sincerest apologies are due to him, because that is indeed a public
meeting. That said, I'm still a little disappointed by the lack of public
involvement, because I know that a working session is hardly the place
where public input can really be taken into account. Not many people can
fit into that room! :) And it is probably just me, but I wish there had
been a month or two more to talk about the proposal, even if that meant
that the homebuilders could gather more money during that time. It's a
risk I'm willing to take in order to get more buy-in from the population
at large.

It was a pleasure to work with you as well, Bill, even if we didn't always
see eye to eye. I learned a lot being on the Commission, and have been
trying to figure out how else I can help the City deal with growth better
through volunteering. Indeed, I have thought about applying for the
Greenbelt Advisory Committee once Proposal B passes! We will see when that
time comes.

On an aside... why do we always talk about building more housing downtown
- where land is extremely expensive - instead of better and more housing
on the periphery of the city, where land is at least a little less
expensive? It's an odd thing I just noticed... I'm all for more housing
downtown, but I'm also for more (hopefully better designed) housing
throughout the city too.

Anyway, I hadn't intended to insult anyone about Dickens Woods, nor get
very far into the background of that particular case. I gave my opinion,
which admittedly was formed through just a couple interactions with the
neighbors at a formal meeting. How much would I have known if I had stayed
in the area instead of moving a bit north, and gotten involved with the
Friends as I had intended? Ah well, life is too busy for all of us
sometimes. We can't know the history of everything around us, or
everyone's motivations. That is the way it goes. I'm glad that it has
resulted in greater civic involvement by that community, a new park for
the city near a school (always a good thing), and a successful fundraising

Thank you all for the interesting discussion, and I look forward to
reading more about these issues in the future.



"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
        - Mahatma Gandhi

On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 Willhan@aol.com wrote:

> Kristen,
> I hope you'll be able to work through your issues, and support Proposal B. I
> fear you have some very bad information that you're using to make your
> decision.
 > First of all, Mayor Hieftje did meet with the Ann Arbor Planning
 > at a public meeting in August to discuss the Parks and Greenbelt
Proposal. This
 > was after you left the Planning Commission in July. The mayor had also
 > input from the Park Advisory Commission in August -- also at a public
 > meeting. The mayor also initiated a public forum on Proposal B at the
Ann Arbor
 > Planning Commission's October 21 business meeting. Further, the mayor
called for
 > and organized the town hall debate on Proposal B at the Michigan
Theater, which
 > nearly 1,000 citizens attended and participated in. What he said at the
 > about public input was correct. To accuse him of lying is unfair and
> wrong.
> Second, the mayor and Leah Gunn, chair of the Washtenaw County Commission,
> have spearheaded a regional planning effort the past several months. Several
> township leaders and planners, as well as the planning directors and chief
> executives from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and the County planning director are
 > participating. The meetings have been very good, and a lot of progress
is being made
> on finding regional solutions to affordable housing, transportation and
> roads, and preservation of open space.
> Third, although Mayor Hieftje is Proposal B's chief champion, and will
 > rightly get a lot of credit for its success should voters approve it,
the initiative
> is the work of dozens of people over many years. Greenbelts and PDR programs
 > have been around for years, as I'm sure you know. This program borrows
 > successful ideas from places like Peninsula Township, Michigan, the
> Alliance Program in San Francisco, Boulder, Colorado, and Cleveland, to name
> but a few locales that have used similar approaches to smart growth.
> Fourth, Ann Arbor Township, Pittsfield Township, Superior Township, and Scio
> Township have all been consulted in advance of the program going forward, and
> have been warm to it. The supervisors of each of these townships has
>  officially endorsed Proposal B. Ann Arbor Township is going forward
with its own
 > program, as you point out. I predict others will follow soon if these
> initiatives are successful.
> I know from working with you on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission that you
 > understand that affordable housing is a complex and challenging problem
in our
> community. I think it's unfair to suggest that Proposal B should somehow
 > address every problem we have in our community. Housing in Ann Arbor is
> because people want to live here. Housing prices have continued to climb
 > substantially in Ann Arbor with no greenbelt in place. It's wrong to
blame the cost
 > of housing on a plan that hasn't even been enacted. Mayor Hieftje and
 > every leader of the Proposal B campaign has expressed support for the
idea of
 > significantly increasing the number of residential units in the
 > Environmentalists have long said that they would support some more
density in the
> City for preservation in the outlying areas. Proposal B is the first real
> opportunity to make that happen. It's why so many business leaders in our
> community support it.
> Two of the most dense projects in recent history -- Lowertown and the private
> North Quad Dorm -- were approved by Planning Commission and City Council
> largely because of Mayor Hieftje's leadership.
> If approved by voters, Proposal B will result in creation of a Greenbelt
> Advisory Committee, much like the County's Natural Areas Technical Advisory
> Committee. The technical advisory group will make recommendations to City Council,
> who will ultimately decide how funds are spent. The committee will be made up
> of citizens from a broad spectrum of professions -- and will likely include
> land-use planners, developers, architects, scientists, environmentalists,
> educators, and preservationists. If you decide to support Proposal B, I would
> certainly support your appointment to the Greenbelt Committee.
> Kristen, I enjoyed working with you on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission, and
> I respect your opinion. I certainly acknowledge your right to disagree with
> Mayor Hieftje about his agenda and his ideas. I don't think it's fair to accuse
> him of lying, though. He values public input more than many leaders who have
> come and gone at City Hall, and he's put together a remarkably broad coalition
> to support Proposal B. I hope you'll join that coalition, and vote YES
> Tuesday.
> Respectfully,
> Bill Hanson
> Ann Arbor Planning Commissioner and Washtenaw Land Trust Executive Director

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