Michigan Land Use Institute

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The Institute and UCP Michigan Recommend 10 Steps to Prosperity

January 17, 2005 |

We urge Governor Granholm and the Legislature to thrust the sword of reform deeply and make the significant changes in spending that will end sprawl, build viable public transportation systems, rebuild cities, and turn Michigan into a greener, cleaner, dynamic state of opportunity. We also call on the governor and the Legislature to base their spending decisions on the recommendations of the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council. Specifically, the Michigan Land Use Institute and United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan urge the state to take these ten steps:

1. Establish state land use goals and spending priorities that help the state’s cities become better places to live and work and conserve the state’s farmland and countryside.

2. Establish economic incentives that foster regional planning by local governments, collaboration on appropriate development, and proper use of their capital expenditures to
follow those plans.

3. Authorize local governments to require “concurrency;” i.e., that adequate roads, sewers, and other infrastructure are in place before approving new development.

4. Point state financing for schools and other public facilities to urbanized areas whenever possible. Offer incentives for constructing and renovating public schools within neighborhoods and town centers and for sharing athletic facilities.
5. Reward local governments for capital spending that follows state land use goals. Establish urban investment boundaries that limit expensive infrastructure extensions, levy impact fees on open space development, and direct sewer and water investments away from sprawl locations. Require local cooperation through regional frameworks for decisions on large projects.

6. Establish Commerce Centers in existing communities that favor mixed use, density, transit, and open space protection in their master plans and actions. Facilitate their redevelopment with state and federal assistance and priority access to funding opportunities and development tools, and mandate quick local decision-making on public and private investment that meet land use goals. Direct public road, sewer, school, water line, and economic investments there, instead of into the countryside.

7. Expand market-rate and affordable housing opportunities through a state trust fund that helps developers build urban mixed-income home rental and ownership projects.
8. Respect community character by fixing roads before building new ones and adopting a citizen-guided, “context-sensitive design” process that promotes safe and innovative road, transit, bicycling, and walking designs and complements existing master plans.

9. Improve public transit and other transportation alternatives by fully funding them at the state’s constitutional maximums; retain ownership of railroad rights-of-way for future trail and transit use; and encourage walking and biking to school through “Safe Routes to School” programs. Invest in walkable development patterns that make public transit more efficient and easier to use.

10. Support entrepreneurial farm and food system development, particularly small- and medium-sized operations, with business and technical training and assistance, economic development, and a state food policy council. Establish agricultural production areas with tax incentives that encourage farming and conversion fees that discourage land speculation and development. Use the conversion fees to finance the incentives and other farm preservation and viability programs. Require “concentrated animal feeding operations” to use waste-control methods that protect public health and the environment.

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
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