Michigan Land Use Institute

MLUI / Articles from 1995 to 2012 / Groundswells


Smart Growth Movement News

July 7, 2004 |

Cruisin’ Woodward


Cool cars: Small part of a large history. 

Woodward Avenue cruises past 250 historic buildings, 30 historic districts, and six national landmarks between Detroit and Pontiac, yet restoring this faded main drag is strictly stop-and-go. Now two old restoration organizations have merged into the New Woodward Avenue Action Association to help pick up the pace. NWAAA’s new board has at least one business and one government representative from each town along the entire route (except for Bloomfield Hills). The united group will build on its previous, collaborative history, which includes securing State Heritage Route and National Scenic Byway status and more than a million dollars in federal restoration funds for Woodward. To get involved, contact Heather Carmona at 248-399-3933 or admin@woodwardavenue.org.

Spring Training

MLUI/Gary Howe

Walking to school in South Hartman, Michigan

In April about 150 students, parents, and officials in six school districts, including Stanton, Jackson, and Flint, toured their neighborhoods as a warm-up for this fall’s Walk to School Day. Safe Routes to School sponsored the events as part of its sustained push for more pedestrian and pedal power throughout Michigan. It hopes to give hard-driving soccer moms and dads a break and encourage our increasingly plump kids to get some exercise. For more information, or to get your school involved, visit www.michiganfitness.org.

Who Pays?

MLUI/Gary Howe

Sprawl threatens Leelanau County’s cherry orchards.

Agreeing to preserve farmland is one thing, but paying for it is quite another. Last year Leelanau County commissioners approved a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) ordinance, which permits the county to direct cash payments to farmers in exchange for their permanent surrender of commercial development rights. But commissioners won’t allow a vote on a millage to pay for it, so the citizen board that authored the ordinance is promoting state legislation allowing counties to levy up to a 1 percent real estate tax on many non-farm sales, which in Leelanau would garner less than half of what’s needed to preserve 10,000 acres of farmland over 10 years. Federal, state, and foundation matches could cover the difference; so board members are shopping the idea to Leelanau townships, local realtor and farm associations, and the almost two dozen other Michigan counties that have PDR ordinances but no funding mechanisms. For much more Leelanau news, visit our sister Web site, www.mlui.org/leelanau.

Greenbelts and Granny Flats

MLUI/Gary Howe

Ann Arbor: For families only?
When Ann Arbor voters approved funding a “greenbelt” last November to preserve undeveloped land outside the city, some claimed it would drive up the area’s already sky-high housing prices. But Ann Arbor’s mayor promised the city would provide more affordable housing options. University of Michigan students are campaigning for a simple way to help meet that promise: Legalizing rentals of so-called “granny flats” — basement, attic, or carriage house add-on apartments — to non-household members, thereby providing higher-density housing without disturbing neighborhoods. The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce supports the idea, but homeowner associations, which killed a similar proposal in 2001, are fighting the idea again. To help the campaign, contact the students at pirgimadus@umich.edu.

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