Monday, January 24, 2005

Leland Township Master Plan Comments

January 24, 2005

Comments on the Leland Township Property Owner Survey

On housing: Please don’t confuse “affordable housing” with “low income housing.” Affordable housing means places that a family making $40,000 can live in. This might mean a new teacher whose spouse works part time. This could mean a husband who works a Van’s while the wife works at the Children’s Center. It could be the guy who is going to fix your plumbing and the woman who will provide visiting nursing services while you recover from surgery. It is the people who stay here all winter and make sure that your roof is shoveled and that your pipes don’t freeze.

The current exodus out of Northport is a warning about maintaining a diverse population in our villages. As the proportion of full time residents, working residents and families decreases the village businesses become less profitable and are endangered. Affordable housing integrated into a village insures a base for village businesses and upholds everyone’s property values.

On the sewer: Although I strongly support protecting water quality I cannot favor expanding a sewer system that does not work correctly. I live near the last pumping station on Popp Road. My neighbors and I are still subjected to noxious odors from the pumping station on a daily basis. I understand that numerous attempts have been made to fix this problem, yet the smell remains. I suspect that any attempt to add on to this system would rile everyone who lives in the vicinity of a pumping station.

On the economy: We can expect to see more internet-based businesses and more people who are employed elsewhere but are able to work from home with the help of fast internet service. Our zoning laws should encourage these home-based businesses and we should look at establishing industrial “incubator” space to keep these businesses in the township as they grow. Talk to Bob Pisor: is it inevitable that when a township business is successful (as Stone House Bread is) it has to relocate to Traverse City to find room to expand?

Access to high speed internet is a limiting factor for new business, or even for people trying to start a new business. On line computers at the Leland Library are in high demand; look at opening a similar service (publicly or privately run) in Lake Leelanau.

Provemont Pond: This “park” is a disgrace. It doesn’t even have a sign anymore. It is increasingly used for dirt bikes, paintball wars, trash dumping, etc. It should be properly identified as a park or nature preserve or whatever it is and then the rules need to be posted and enforced. It could be a really nice place for mushrooming, hiking, cross country skiing, etc.

Utility lines: New utility lines should be buried everywhere, not just in the “downtown” areas. Any additional lines should be placed on the current right-of ways instead of placing parallel lines on both the new and old corridors as is now proposed by Consumers Energy for M-204.

On the Master Plan: Our current Master Plan was drafted after much public input and hard work by the drafting committee. I remember people talking about light pollution (then a new concept) at those meetings. Residents had a clear idea of what sorts of evils they wanted to avoid as the township grew.

Years later I found myself in front of the Township Board asking why this same Master Plan and the zoning laws that it generated were being ignored by the board when it approved new street lighting for Lake Leelanau. The prevailing attitude seemed to be that the Master Plan was just a document for the shelf, not something to be studied or heeded. At one point I heard the comment “Well, we can’t tell people what they can do with their property!” and I wondered what the point of having zoning or a Master Plan is, if we are too gutless to enforce any of it.

So here we go again. Is this another waste of taxpayer time and money? Are we going to demand of our elected officials and ourselves the discipline that it will take to preserve even a little of what made Leland Township attractive in the first place? Are we going to look beyond the buzzwords and our preconceptions to find solutions that fit our township and our lives?

I hope these comments help to provide some perspective. Please feel free to contact me at any time

Susan Och
51 S French Road
Lake Leelanau, MI 49653

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