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SG-W:/ Ann Arbor Results

For those who weren't in Ann Arbor tonight, you missed
some history being made. Two millage proposals were on
the ballot: One in Ann Arbor Township to fund a
farmland PDR program and one in the City of Ann Arbor
to purchase parkland, open space and purchase
development rights on farmland in the townships
surrounding the City. Both proposals appear to have
won by overwhelming margins. 

The City proposal faced an expensive nasty negative
campaign funded largely by developers and the
homebuilders association. Despite the constant barrage
of lies, City voters turned out in record numbers and
appear to have easily approved the proposal 14,524 to
7,270. It will replace the existing 0.5 mills parkland
acquisition millage with a new 30 year 0.5 mills Parks
and Greenbelt millage. This millage will allow the
City to purchase parkland and open spaces within the
City limits as well as land and development rights
outside the City in a defined area, commonly refered
to the greenbelt. 


The Township proposal, which will increase taxes by
0.7 mills for 20 years, won 1,186 to 355. The Township
plans to preserve 2,000 acres of farmland through the
purchase of development rights.


By working with the City, the Township will likely be
able to preserve even more farmland and open space. 

You know that the approval of these two proposals is
going to send shockwaves through the development
community. While some will dismiss these proposals as
yet another example of "Ann Arbor activism", the
reality is that the City of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor
Township and those surrounding Townships that work
with the City on land preservation are no longer going
to be held hostage to the whims of land speculators,
developers and judges who all conspire to work against
sound planning principals. No longer will these
communities be forced to constantly react to the
latest development proposal and hope that there zoning
and Master Plans will stand up to a constant barrage
of legal attacks. Instead, they will be able to
proactively protect farmland and open space and ensure
that growth goes where it is planned for, not where it
best suits the developers interests. It's likely that
the success of these proposals will trigger even more
PDR efforts as surrounding communities realize that
PDR millages can be passed and that they too have to
take steps to prepare for future growth. The Ann Arbor
area is opening an entirely new chapter in land use
planning in Michigan. 

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone involved
with the campaigns in the City and Township for the
incredible amount of work that they did to make these
victories possible. I was blessed with the opportunity
today to meet a number of the people who were involved
with getting the two proposals passed. You won't find
a more dedicated, hard-working, self-sacrificing group
of people who passionately care about the future of
their communities and are willing to put the time,
energy and money into it than I met today. If every
community in the state had just a few of these people
involved with land use issues, we would be so far
ahead of where we are now. These are true land-use
heroes in Michigan. The hard work begins soon but
today, we should celebrate a pair of land use

Andrew Mutch

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