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Two Important Meetings

Letter to Acme Township Residents

September 4, 2004 |

Dear Acme Township Residents:

We have been very pleased with the strong participation from you, our fellow Acme residents, concerning the Village at Grand Traverse shopping center and other significant development proposals within our township. Thank you for your concern and involvement in trying to manage growth in Acme Township. We are writing today to inform you of two very important meetings in early September and another key issue you will be asked to vote on in November.

The Village of Grand Traverse proposal
After two very well attended public hearings at New Hope Church (at which most of those who spoke voiced intense opposition to the project), the planning commission voted 4-2 to recommend that the township board approve the conceptual plan for the shopping center and housing. On August 3rd township residents sent a clear message to our elected officials that we are not satisfied with the current direction they are taking on this project. Given the results of that vote, we believe that the township board should not act on this issue but instead defer action for the next board.

We appreciate that the planning commission did require an improved design of the residential area, and negotiated some size reduction related to the big box stores, but we feel that eliminating one of the 200,000 sq. foot buildings and replacing it with one at 85,000 sq. ft and 2 @ 20,000 sq ft. is not particularly significant. We are especially concerned because Meijer wants to be the big-box tenant and has not yet committed to relinquish their right to build another big box on their property just east along M-72 across Lautner Road.

While the planning commission did set some conditions that must be met prior to final site plan approval, we believe there continue to be many other unanswered questions that should be addressed prior to the town board’s approval of the conceptual plan. Those include:

  1. A lack ofadequate traffic, environmental, and marketing studies to ensure that the impacts of this project can be effectively managed. Before granting conceptual approval, township officials must be confident that the project can be completed in a safe and desirable manner.
  2. The need for Meijer to sell or donate its right to develop on the east side of Lautner Road if Meijer is to locate at the shopping center site.
  3. The need for the conceptual plan to keep open the opportunity to integrate a single, large retail anchor store into the fabric of the downtown, rather than as a stand-alone “big box” store surrounded by a sea of parking. Many communities across the country are requiring large retailers to design stores that architecturally fit into their community.
  4. The fact that the conceptual plan does not yet ensure that the residential portion of the development will be built. We support a legally binding phasing plan that requires residential and commercial be built simultaneously.
  5. The need for the conceptual plan to explicitly reserve much of the residential development to function as a “receiving area” for a future Transfer of Development Rights program. This program would buy development rights from targeted rural lands and “send” those rights into an area meant for more compact growth.


The Township Board will consider approving the conceptual plan for the Village at Grand Traverse at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7 at the Township Hall (7:00 pm).

There will be opportunity for public comment. We urge you to attend and encourage the board not to approve this concept unless, and until, the conditions described above are included.

Downtown Development Authority (DDA) proposal
We are enclosing a copy of a legal notice that appeared in the Record-Eagle during the last few days announcing a public hearing on a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) proposal for our township. Also enclosed is a map showing the boundaries of the proposed area.

Downtown Development Authorities are traditionally intended to revitalize or support existing downtown commercial areas. An example would be Traverse City’s DDA, which encompasses several square blocks around Front Street. The DDA is authorized to capture tax revenue within its area that would ordinarily go to other governmental entities and use that revenue for specific improvements that are intended to increase the downtown’s overall taxable value. Those improvements often include streetscaping (sidewalks, trees, signage, lighting) or other public facilities. 

While DDA’s can make good sense as a tool for a true town center, we are deeply concerned about the size and possible intent of this proposed DDA. Our concern is that the proposed DDA is much too large (GIGANTIC), and moves the township on a track toward allowing much more commercial development within that boundary. The township master plan contemplates a town center that is walkable and is a meeting place for residents. The size and scale of the proposed “downtown” area is too large to accomplish those goals and could suburbanize Acme Township.

Residents within this boundary (listed in the attached legal notice) should also be aware that a DDA has the authority to levy up to 2 mils on every property within the DDA.

This DDA public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 9 at the Township Hall (7:00 pm). We urge you to attend this DDA meeting as well if you possibly can.

Farmland Preservation
Last week the township board narrowly approved joining forces with other surrounding townships in the area to place on the November ballot a proposal to increase property taxes by one mil to help support a farmland preservation fund for our area. We believe this is an excellent program and that helping farmers derive a fair compensation for their property is essential to managing growth in our community. Thanks to Commissioners Amon, Hoxsie, and Agruda for standing tough on what turned out to be a hard fought issue. You will be hearing more about this before November, and we think it is worth supporting.


Concerned Citizens of Acme Township

Michigan Land Use Institute

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