Beaver Island meets the Michigan Land Use Institute
On Wednesday, July 24th, Jeanne and Ralph Graham hosted a reception in their home at Western Shores for the Michigan Land Use Institute, for which Ralph sits on the Board. After the thirty-six or so people in attendance had exchanged greetings and sampled hors d'oeuvres, Ralph introduced Hans Voss, MLUI's executive director. He talked about some of the issues with which the organization is involved: protecting natural resources, such as water or scenic views; protecting land by controlling urban sprawl and the proliferation of highways; and empowering grass-roots movements to take charge of their future. He recounted the help the MLUI provided to Petoskey for analyzing their beltway options, and to Traverse City in its effort to get a grip on the ramifications of the proposed bridge over the Boardman River.
Andy Guy, another member of the MLUIS team, mentioned some of the stories he covered as a reporter, such as examples of siphoning off ground water by industry and drying up wells for miles around. Founder and policy director Arlin Wasserman spoke about the pressing need for the MLUI to help communities come to terms with land use issues by defining the questions, listing their options, and having a voice in Lansing to affect law and policy and the appropriation of funds.
The audience was very receptive to the presntation; in a sense, this continued and expanded on the themes presented at last spring's Leadership Retreat, which dealt with ways we could manage tourism and growth to prevent them from infringing on our natural heritage. No particular immediate dangers were suggested that would require the MLUI's direct and immediate involvement, but the ruling emotions of those who have chosen to live on Beaver Island for at least part of the year seemed to mesh perfectly with MLUI's vision.
During the question-and-answer period that followed, Fred Hauboldt responded to Hans Voss' statement that one of the organization's goals was to see that MDOT repairs more existing roads and spend less money building new ones by mentioning that they might not have realized it when they flew over Lake Michigan to get here, but MDOT regards it as an extension of a highway. "They have given us a great deal of money for transportation on this waterway, and now we're after more," he added. Picking up what he took to be the spirit of this remark, Voss stated that we had an obligation to research the broad consequences of another new boat and make sure we would be comfortable with them before proceeding any farther.
The more Beaver Islanders who join the MLUI ($25 to MLUI, Box 500, Beulah MI 49617), the more well be able to draw on them for help.
The next morning the four MLUI staff members were invited to a breakfast with the Peaine Township Planning Commission, which is working on an Island-wide master plan. Those present found the message as sensible and prescient as the audience had the night before. Everyone on Beaver Island agrees we have to take steps now to coordinate our land use planning, to be as comprehensive as possible, to solicit input from every voice. Meeting these conscientious and informed people from the MLUI and developing an ongoing relationship with them can be an important step in avoiding some potential mistakes. The Island tips its hat to the Grahams for bringing this interaction about.
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