Michigan Land Use Institute

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Smart Talk

Now’s the Time

March 24, 2003 | By Hans Voss
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

MLUI/Gail Dennis
  Executive Director Hans Voss

Of all the statistics about Michigan’s sprawl crisis, this, in my view, is the most alarming: If current land use trends continue, the next generation of Michiganders will spread out on an amount of land equal to all of the development that has occurred in Michigan over the last 200 years.

Sobering indeed. But I am encouraged.

Michigan is a place like no other. People here are proud of their rich history of commerce and culture. It is still a place where Main Street shopkeepers call their customers by name. It is a place where the land and water are as much a part of us as the air we breathe and the food we eat. And my bet is citizens won’t let their Michigan slip away to sprawl.
A powerful consensus is emerging — one that is turning this tide and
tackling the underlying cause of so many of Michigan’s economic, social,
agricultural, and environmental problems.

For the first time in decades, leaders at the highest level of state government — and from both political parties — are taking serious action. People from all walks of life are speaking up with a powerful new conviction. And business executives, environmentalists, local officials, and farmers are finding common ground like never before.

Of course, big solutions to complex problems take time. Now is the time for Smart Growth.

For eight years, the Michigan Land Use Institute has been building Michigan’s Smart Growth movement. With the highest journalistic standards of excellence and fairness, we have told the stories, celebrated the heroes, exposed the opponents — and always with an unrelenting focus on solutions. By reviving the Great Lakes Bulletin, the Institute carries on its commitment to building awareness through engaging land use news and insightful commentary.

Our ultimate goal? Making sure this generation goes down in history as the one that set a new course for Michigan.

Hans Voss is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s executive director.
Reach him at

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
e comments@mlui.org