LOCAL COMMENT: Land-use plan right
By Frank Kelley and William Milliken
Detroit Free Press
As cochairs of the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council,
we salute Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her determined, bipartisan
vision that defined the roads Michigan must travel to
secure a strong economic future.
At the heart of this vision is a commitment to create
a Michigan where businesses want to locate and talented
people want to live. To make this vision a reality, Michigan
must contain exciting creative cities as well as beautiful,
productive rural landscapes. It must be surrounded by
clean air and water. And it must be infused with an everyday
quality of life that extends from workplaces and schools
to shopping and recreation opportunities and to our neighborhoods
and our homes.
Arching across all of these priorities are the issues
of wise land-use that Granholm entrusted to the 26 members
of the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council early in her
administration. Our bipartisan work group brought forth
a list of recommendations, many of which have already
been incorporated into legislation and executive orders
that are helping our state plan a productive and sustainable
future for the 37 million acres that are Michigan.
"Cool Cities" is one key component of the governor's
plans for Michigan that rests on many recommendations
brought forward by the Council. Cool Cities requires making
our urban centers attractive to developers, residents
and entrepreneurs. With these recommendations as a guide,
the Legislature and municipal governments have a map to
support public and private efforts to develop city spaces
now empty, address urban blight and take advantage of
urban infrastructure to create mixed-use housing, walkable
neighborhoods and new business opportunities.
A healthy economy also means, as the governor stressed,
that we have productive farmland and timberland, and a
thriving tourism economy. All of these industries depend
on our ability to preserve productive land, maintain our
most scenic views and protect our rivers and Great Lakes.
Again, these goals and the methods to achieve them were
another focus of the council's recommendations.
Granholm also discussed how an efficient government is
central to a leaner budget and a more competitive state
outlook. She urged local units of government to tighten
their budgets -- to "tear up the turf" and work
together, to think regionally and work collaboratively.
The council recognized that one of the best places to
begin this work is in areas of planning, infrastructure
and development. There are millions of dollars and thousands
of government staff hours to be saved if governmental
units could view land in the way that people see it and
use it rather than along narrow jurisdictional boundaries.
If cities, townships and counties work together to share
planning resources and technology, and even actual planning
documents, we will together have marked a huge milestone
in making our state a more appealing place to live. Roads,
bridges, waterways and scenic views all cross jurisdictional
borders. Local leaders should work together across borders
The governor's call for collaboration that puts aside
partisanship and politics was the guiding spirit of the
council. The council gathered the best minds in Michigan
business, tourism, government, agriculture and environmentalism.
Together, they reached agreement on land-use issues crucially
important to Michigan's economic vitality and quality
of life. The council demonstrated that the governor's
vision of cooperation is indeed possible and served as
a model for how Michigan can move forward.
We are grateful to Granholm for recognizing the value
of the council's recommendations and its spirit of cooperation,
and for helping our state begin the journey to a place
where commerce, our citizens and our environment thrive.
Together, we can build a Michigan that all of our children
will want to come home to.