Tuesday, October 14, 2003$400,000 for Sprawl?
A Call to Action: Urbanism Needs Your Help
Yes, the mayor might be a little confused about the greenbelt issue, but I think it's a good idea, and after the vote passes, we can focus on convincing city officials to approve development downtown. (God forbid Ann Arbor become as urbane and pleasant as cities with strong growth policies like Portland, Oregon - we'd lose out on all that "European" character the Ann Arbor News keeps talking about!) More to the point, Mayor Heifje will be debating the pro-sprawl agitators tomorrow, at 5 PM in the Michigan Theatre. This from Crain's Detroit Business:
"Home-builders hire firm to help fight greenbelt plan
Lansing lobbying firm Marketing Resource Group Inc. has been hired by home-builders in Washtenaw County to help defeat Ann Arbor's Nov. 4 ballot proposal to use tax dollars to buy development rights on vacant property in the surrounding townships.
The Home Builders Association of Washtenaw County plans to spend about $400,000 to defeat the greenbelt initiative, a source said. The group has raised between $150,000 and $300,000 so far, said Jeff Fisher, public-affairs director for the group. He declined to give a target fund-raising figure.
Local builders are expected to kick in about $100,000 and the Washtenaw Home Builders Association about $100,000, with the rest coming from the Michigan Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Home Builders, sources said.
On Wednesday, the sides will debate the issue beginning at 5 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, said Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje. Hieftje announced the plan to buy development rights and land in the surrounding townships to preserve green space in August, and the majority of local home-builders are vehemently opposed.
Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space have raised about $100,000 to help pass the ballot issue, but hope to collect more, said Chairman Mike Garfield."
This blurb about the debate from the Ann Arbor News:
"Greenbelt debate at Michigan Theater
If you want to know about the proposed parks and greenbelt around Ann Arbor - and the millage that would fund it - Wednesday afternoon provides a good opportunity.
The proposal's chief proponent, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, challenged the Home Builders Association of Washtenaw County to a public debate about the program.
The forum is set for 5 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.
Two representatives from the Home Builders Association and two from Hieftje's office and the Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space will have time for opening comments, and then each will have an opportunity for rebuttal, said Home Builders Association spokesman Jeff Fisher.
After the debate the public may pose questions, but audience participation is limited strictly to questions for either or both sides, not comments or political statements.
At issue is a 30-year, half-mill property tax that would replace an existing parks acquisition levy set to expire next year. It's expected to generate $84 million for the greenbelt program. The owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $50 in greenbelt taxes a year.
Voters will decide on the parks and greenbelt millage on Nov. 4."
Posted by Rob at 12:20 PM