Yes folks, it’s a bourgeois contradiction: the rich Ann Arbor homeowners slugging it out with rich Ann Arbor developers over the mayor’s “Greenbelt” iniative, a modest and much-needed proposal not without some drawbacks. Meanwhile, the residents of the low-income housing units at the Y, the people who live in Ypsilanti and are forced to ride the bus downtown to work, and, to a certain extent, even the student population is left out of the discussion. I guess regional transportation and growth policies don’t affect any of them!

The Ann Arbor News’ coverage of what at least some people think about the mayor’s greenbelt proposal has been prolific in the past week, perhaps even obsessive. The News has dedicated a special section of their website to stories about the proposal, including some interesting maps of the potentially affected area.

In an attempt to be at least somewhat comprehensive, here’s a quick rundown of Ann Arbor news stories that have been printed since I last updated this website:

10.16 “Greenbelt details”
10.16 “Greenbelt faceoff; debate draws large crowd”

“This is a modest program,” [Mayor Hieftje] said. “It is a tool … to redirect development.” … Ann Arbor resident Scott Wojack, 34, said he opposed the proposal going into the debate and heard nothing to change his mind. Wojack said there are better ways to combat urban sprawl – better zoning restrictions and more development downtown, and that the quality of life argument defies logic.

(Too bad Wojack, a Republican who has run unsucessfully for a seat in the Michigan house, doesn’t seem to understand the nature of regional planning: the major is proposing a Greenbelt specifically because the city doesn’t have the power to zone land outside the city limits. Of course, one solution is to make it easier for cities to annex surrounding towns when they reach a specific density, but something tells me the Grosse Pointes wouldn’t be too happy about that.)

10.17 “Greenbelt foes make anonymous calls”

” The message starts, “Hi. I’m calling about the city’s $100 million tax proposal on the November ballot.” The voice then states the proposal was “rushed to the ballot by the city without a single public hearing or testimony.”

It then says there are several unanswered questions and asks that the resident vote it down.

“Whether it is legal or not is not the point,” said Mike Garfield, co-chairman of Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space, an organization in favor of the greenbelt millage. “They point is, they are afraid to say who they are. I think they don’t want Ann Arbor voters to know that the primary opponent to the parks and greenbelt millage are big out-of-town developers and their primary funding for this campaign is coming from outside of Ann Arbor.”

10.18 “Algea blooms into role as sprawl debate point”
10.18 “Unanswered questions” (About greenbelt proposal)
10.18 “Battle flares over details of greenbelt”
10.19 “Learn more about the greenbelt” (Details of three forums, located at three locations you have to drive to from “Downtown”: Weber’s Inn, EMU, and WCC)
10.19 “Townships have stake”

Author: Rob