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Letter to BBI voters
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:04 pm    Post subject: Letter to BBI voters Reply with quote

In November the island will get to vote and decide the issue of how a piece of property will be zoned. A letter was sent to the voters. I know that you all want to be kept in the loop, so here it is.

A CRISIS ON BOIS BLANC 9/06

Dear Neighbor,
On November 7th you will be asked to vote for or against changing the zoning classification of a parcel of land. The land in question is currently zoned "Low Density Residential." You will be asked to vote for or against changing this classification to "Commercial 2." This land has been zoned for single-family dwellings for as long as BobLo has had a Zoning Ordinance, and the most recent update of the Zoning Ordinance was approved unanimously by the Township Board last October (2005).

If the proposed zoning change to Commercial 2 is approved by the voters, it will mean that the parcel may be used in perpetuity for the most intensive of commercial uses such as storage of heavy equipment, stockpiles of construction materials, road resurfacing substances and for the erection of large pole barn structures. Approval would also allow any number of other commercial enterprises to be constructed on the land. Just as important, it also means that any residentially zoned land, including land adjacent to your property, could be similarly rezoned to accommodate construction of a bar, junk yard, sawmill, campground, contractor yard, etc.

A little history: in October of 2005 the Township Board voted unanimously to approve the Zoning Ordinance update prepared by the Planning Commission. That Ordinance reflected public opinion as expressed in focus groups, public hearings, etc. Like the old Ordinance, it set aside and restricted future commercial development primarily to the area near the dock - from Hoover road to the Hoffman residence. But shortly thereafter, for unknown reasons, the Board voted 3-2 to make an end-run around the Ordinance they had just approved by voting to rezone the parcel in question.

We, members of the Planning Commission, brought suit attempting to at least get the rezone issue in front of the voters. We prevailed, and that’s why there is to be a vote on the 7th of November.

We love this island and want to preserve it. It is one of the few places east of the Mississippi which hasn’t been ruined by unbridled greed. We hope you will think carefully about all this. Do you really want free-for-all commercial development on Bois Blanc? Do you really want that junkyard or whatever next to you? If not, we need your help. We need your NO vote on the Bois Blanc Township Zoning Proposal.

OTHER THINGS TO PONDER
----- Many may not be aware that this whole mess has its origins in a family dispute. We know how heart-rending these can be, but we ask: is it the function of government to resolve such things? Are family squabbles appropriate drivers of public policy?
----- And finally a quote from the Michigan Appellate Digest:
"A zoning ordinance or amendment which creates a small area of inconsistent use within a larger area will be closely scrutinized, and will be sustained only if the facts and circumstances indicate a valid exercise of zoning power. Spot zoning is invalid if it is without a reasonable basis. ECONOMIC GAIN TO THE PROPERTY OWNER IS AN INSUFFICIENT REASON TO CREATE SPOT ZONING... (our emphasis)."

VOTE AND SAY NO!

SOMETHING YOU SHOULDN’T BELIEVE
- that we’re a bunch of elitist tree huggers who want to bring all change on BobLo, including commercial development, to a halt.

THE TRUTH is that we only want to regulate, and minimize, the negative results of such change. We fully realize the desirability of more employment on BobLo; how good it would be, for example, to be able to attract young families here. Does that mean we have to mess up the place? We think not. Surely spot-zoning commercial into a pristine residential area is not the way to go.

SOMETHING ELSE YOU SHOULDN’T BELIEVE
-that there is a desperate need for more commercially zoned land on BobLo.

THE TRUTH is that this notion, often loudly, even angrily asserted of late, has never been demonstrated - never proven. The truth is that this yawning chasm of need was only asserted after the long and tedious work on the new zoning ordinance had been completed. For all we know it may be true. And we realize that some, perhaps many, sincerely believe that more commercial is needed. Why then shouldn’t we, as a community, use the already established mechanisms of governance and planning to have a reasoned discussion of the issues? That, after all, is why these elements of government exist. Then maybe we could come up with a plan which would meet the needs of all the stake holders.

Want more information? Contact Bill Heinlen 231-634-7309, Lani White 231-634-7440, Fran Vallely

Vote and say NO! Vote and say NO! Vote and say NO! Vote and say NO! Vote and say NO!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where is the property in question? I heard a rumor, that a certain real estate broker wanted to develop a trailer park on the West End. Are these issues related? Was what I heard, just a scare tactic? I wish I could vote on the island. I'm pretty sure I'd be voting "NO".
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Cindy Riker
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too bad the other side isn't sending out their point of view. Remember...there are always to sides to every story.
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Kathy Gibbons
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that I have to agrre with is that there is two sides to every story. So why won't the other side give theirs? Could it be that their reason is not benificial to the whole community?

I say shame on the board. You have a zoning committee that is there for the purpose of checking out the requests for rezoning and determining the benifit or detriment to the community as well as the legality. It is a definite slap in the face for you to make such a ruling in light of the circumstances. I would be very interested to see the board members post there reasons for allowing spot zoning to occur. Spot zoning is rarely ever benificial to the community. If they have reasons for going against the zoning committee that would be a good explanation I for one would like to hear them.

I would say that if the board and the people requesting this change can not step up to the plate and give the voters an explanation and reason for changing the established ordinance that is for the good of the community and not for the personal gain of of the parties in question the VOTE should be NO.
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doug miller
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too would like to know where the property is located.

Another question--just how many people are eligible to vote on Island matters?

And finally, given that the number of voters is probably quite small, does anyone have a sense of how they are leaning on this question?

Thanks.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:37 pm    Post subject: Where the property is. Reply with quote

The property to be voted on over zoning is located along the county road. If you travel out of Pte Aux Pins toward the airport, you will come to a big curve to the right. On the curve is a road going left. That road is called VanVoorhees Rd. or Westcott Rd., because VanVoorhees own the land and live down at the end, and because George Westcott built it and also lived down that road. The property at issue is owned by the VanVoorhees, unless they have sold it recently. That land is on the inside of the curve where VanVoorhees road meets the County Rd. It is about 8 or 9 acres in area.

A related tread on this site is under Island Events - Pending Lawsuit with the Township. As mentioned in the letter, the members of the planning commission prevailed in their lawsuit, and the voters get to decide how the property will be zoned.

I believe that there are around a hundred voters. You might consider making your feelings known to them no matter which way you feel.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:02 pm    Post subject: Clarification of previous post and notice of meeting. Reply with quote

I must be more careful with my words as this is a touchy subject. I previously stated that the members of the planning commission prevailed in their lawsuit. I must clarify this. Three members of Planning, acting on their own, and spending their own money, sued the township. A Planning Commission, as a body, can't sue their own township. There was no mention of this lawsuit in any planning meeting.

On a related note, a public hearing is going to be held, on Friday the 20th of this month at 7pm, to dismiss the three members of the planning commission that were involved in getting the issue before the voters.
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John Elmer Engel
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Letter to BBI voters Reply with quote

mikewhite wrote:

We love this island and want to preserve it. It is one of the few places east of the Mississippi which hasn’t been ruined by unbridled greed. We hope you will think carefully about all this. Do you really want free-for-all commercial development on Bois Blanc? Do you really want that junkyard or whatever next to you? If not, we need your help. We need your NO vote on the Bois Blanc Township Zoning Proposal.


I have listened to very good reasons why this area would provide a good commercial area. At that time, it made sense to me. If we HAD to have a commercial zoned area, that area would be a good choice. As I talked to others and relayed this information, I also listened to other points of view that did not support or deny that the area was a good area to be zoned commercial. What I did hear, was this: we do not want or need a commercial area. We do not want more "commercialism" on this unique piece of creation. Cheboygan and the surrounding area can provide any service that could possibly be needed on BBI.

As most people on BBI know, I love the natural aspects of BBI. Land change, in my opinion, in most cases, is destroying the natural beauty of this unique landscape. A specific example: shoreline land change is destroying the visual beauty of the island's ancient, wild edge. I know the proposed commercial area is not on a shoreline, but more commercial areas would only make BBI more like the mainland.

What I have seen on many pieces of BBI land is an overzealous start and then after the irreversible damage had been done, a total abandonment of the project. We are left with the scar. I would hate to see us left with another irreparable gash from failed commercial endeavors.

What separates us from the Mullett Lakes, Burt Lakes, etc., is the large, intact, wild areas on this island. I believe that Hawks, our excavation businesses, real estate cos., and the bar will benefit as more and more people seek out this non-commercialized place. The further we separate ourselves from the traditional use of "Up north properties" the more valuable the land becomes. Recently I talked to a dentist that visited Drummond island a few years ago and he said he would never buy land there because of the "out of place cabin mansions", log and otherwise, that have been built there". And this guy has money to spend.

As of this writing, I have spent 98 days on BBI this year. Before I leave for the season I will have been here 120 days, plus or minus a day or two. I can't vote which somehow just doesn't seem fair. In lieu of that, my voice can be heard. I quoted Mike because in my heart, I agree with him 100%. Please, VOTE NO!

mikewhite wrote:

We love this island and want to preserve it. It is one of the few places east of the Mississippi which hasn’t been ruined by unbridled greed. We hope you will think carefully about all this. Do you really want free-for-all commercial development on Bois Blanc? Do you really want that junkyard or whatever next to you? If not, we need your help. We need your NO vote on the Bois Blanc Township Zoning Proposal.

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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:19 pm    Post subject: Course correction Reply with quote

John,
Thanks for the support. I do want to point out though, all I did was post a letter composed by others. So the quotes are not mine, but are the quotes of Bill Heinlen, Lani White and Fran vallely. I agree, but I was only the messenger.
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Conis
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

just read J.E.s post . I think he reflects the sentiments of many… Voters and otherwise.

My common sense tells me to stay right the hell out of all of this. But I have something to say and I hope there are some that understand my message.

I am a “BBI refugee” What does that mean?

Well... here's a 30 year perspective in a few paragraphs...

I have been criticized for writing about “what happens in other places… this is supposed to be a BBI website” . OK. I might just have a few insights to pass around. Some food for thought.

Drummond once was my spot. For 10-15 years in the 70's/80s. Monahan came in, polarized the residents, commercially developed and ruined the island in the process. Got tired of his personal sandbox… then left. It has never been the same since. Wrecked as far as my interest in an undisturbed, quiet and wild place that it was, prior. When that all occurred, there was NO ZONING and whatever happens, happens. Well it happened here (there). Too little too late with no stops in place. I haven’t been back since. Read some of my (strident) posts from a couple years ago. I guess, maybe you would have had to been there. It was VERY ugly. You couldn’t pay me to go back.. If I did, too many fond memories would be ruined.

I became fascinated with Beaver Island in the 70’s. I used to spend time at the B.I. Bio station. I have a ton of friends out there who own and/or have built cottages, many are CMU alum and or teachers from my home town. B.I. has zoning, plenty of it… restrictive to the enth!!!

Take that place off the list. With the Bay Harbor yuppie/yachtie mega bucks influence, the place has just become too organized, commercialized, up town and overall snotty. A completely different place than it was 10 or 20 years ago. I haven’t been out there in 2-3 years. Lost interest. I can obtain the same “smell-me ambience” hanging around any of the other snooty Northern Mi resort areas, because that’s what BI has turned into, zoning stops and all. on B.I. "Its all about the money". They (whoever they, is). sold it.

What I am not going to do is offer suggestions on how to prevent BBI from becoming another Drummond or Beaver Island. Don’t, for a second, think that this is impossible. Not for a New York split second...

Think for more than a second how to prevent this. Better yet… Take a few days and go visit Drummond and Beaver islands. Go do that. You NEED to do that. You may not have any reference to how those places once were. All I can tell you is that they were much like Boblo, which was their attraction. And they have become something much different in the span of two decades.

Go visit those places then come back with a perspective. Preserving the non-commercial ambience of Boblo might then be much less subjective.

Nor am I suggesting BBI should be non or limited commercial. Maybe the controversy is "How much is enough?" Less is more... and less will become far more valuable the "more" in the years ahead... as far as conservation and preservation of the island. This includes island commerce.

I am running out of un spoiled, un-wrecked, non-commercialized great lakes islands to migrate, to.

C
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theeislandgirl
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:25 am    Post subject: island Reply with quote

Conis ...

Once again I have enjoyed reading what you had to say ...about the other islands .... and the concerns you have for bob-lo ..

I have had the fear that bob-lo will become an island for the rich only ..

People think .. this can not and will never become that ... on bob-lo .. well folks think again ..

Folks read and think hard about what Conis had to say ...
We can learn from others .... before it is too late
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Jester
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,

You mentioned that there are about 100 voters, John made the comment that he has been on the island for quite awhile this year and I was wondering how the "right to vote" takes place in a township. Do you need to be a permanant (hence: year round) resident, or need to own land on the Island for certain time period? I may be wrong but, isn't it if you own property anywhere you can register to vote? Don't get me wrong with this, I'm not trying to stir anything up, I just was very curious about this.
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Conis
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS to my above post:

I intentionally did not discuss the situation/circumsatnces outlined in Mike's original post. I don't know all of the information or all sides of the story. I am sure there is much more to it that I am aware of. I come to, and enjoy the island as a refuge... which includes a political disconnect.

Just to make my point clear: I have seen what happens when zoning (or lack of zoning) allows private interests, whomever and whatever they are, to take over and supercede the long term interests of the majority. Once this happens, then communities become polarized... "Fixing it" after the fact is seldom doable. Therein is "the scar". It takes a long time to heal.

Sometimes..."doing nothing" isn't a solution, either (IE Drummond).

I do believe there are some types of "low-impact" businesses which would benefit the island as a whole. And others ??? It isn't up to me to make those decisions.

I am heading to the island this afternoon. (storm permitting) and will wrap this up with a question:

How do WE ALL want Boblo to be, when stewardship is transferred to the next generation... one or two decades from now? Like Drummond or Beaver island have become? 10-20 years isn't so distant.

Get out the crystal ball, I guess?

C
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Rosemary
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that you have to be registered to vote here...for Pres., Gov., etc.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your permanent residence, Dave, is where you are allowed to register to vote.. You can only be registered in one place and can only vote once.. Hence only being registered in one place.. You live in Cheboygan so you register thru the township you live in.. Hope this helps ya.. Cool People who own property on the Island write off their seasonal homes.. They could register to vote on the Island, I suppose, If they lived there longer than half the year.. They would have to give up their right to vote in their own district though.. Confused yet? Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:51 pm    Post subject: Voting Reply with quote

I believe that time doesn't have much to do with it. Most people register to vote where they have claimed their homestead to be. Financially, it is best to claim the property with the higher value as your homestead. But, if you live on BBI only in the summer, you can still vote there, if you claim that property as your homestead. Your address on your drivers license must match with the place you vote too, I think.
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doug miller
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Michigan, your principal residence is the only home you can pay the lower property tax rate on--up to 18 mils lower in most places. So if the taxable value of your house is 50,000 (meaning the fair market value is $100,000 or more), you multiply 50,000 by 18 mils and it means you will pay $900 less per year in property taxes.

But on Boblo, I think we pay significantly less mils than in most parts of Michigan. I think we only pay about 4 mils towards education rather than the 18 mils you'd pay in other parts of the state.

All this means that there isn't a great financial incentive for most of us to claim our Boblo property as our principal residence--even if it means we can't vote.

Finally, the Property Tax Act has a definition of principal residence--so you can't simply pick which of your properties you want to consider your principal residence or homestead. And in fact, a fair number of people who have really expensive 2nd homes try to do so. But if that million dollar house on Lake Charlevoix is not the person's "true, fixed and permanent home to which, whenever absent, he or she intends to return," they will not be eligible to claim it as their principal residence and get the lower tax rate.

It gets a little trickier for those who live outside of Michigan part of the year and on Boblo part of the year.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the best interest of even forming an opinion, what does the new zoning ordinance allow under the requested zoning? We don't switch our address until next year, so we can't vote island issues until next year, but how can we form an opinion on the issue without knowing specifically what is allowed within the zoning classification. Can it be printed here? Just the requested class.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 7:54 am    Post subject: General Commercial (C-2) Reply with quote

The 2nd paragraph of the letter to voters sums it up pretty well but here is what is in the book.

Permitted Uses not subject to special approval:

1. Public utility facilities
2. Religious institutions
3. Retail business within an enclosed building
4. Business & personal service facilities
5. Office buildings
6. finacial institutions
7.Resaurants
8. Accessory buildings incidental to the permitted uses

Uses subject to special approval:

1. Schools
2. Public parks
3. Campgrounds
4. Private parks or recreational facilities
5. Raising & growing plants, shrubs, and nusery stock
6. Retail sales of trees, shrubs, and nursery stock
7. Bulk feed, seed or fertilizer sales, storage, or mixing
8. Vehicle or equipment service, and repair facilities
9. Roadside stand
10. Veterinary clinics or kennels
11. Contractor facilities
12. Storage facilities
13. Junk and salvage material storage
14. Home improvement centers
15. Theater or assembly halls
16. Car wash
17. Gasoline/Service station
18. Outdoor sales facility
19. Radio & television towers
20. Non-commercial wind turbine generators
21. Commercial wind turbine generators
22. Parking lot, as principal use with 5 or more spaces
23. Funeral home or Mortuary
24. sawmils and other mills
25. Commercial Stables
26. Recreation Resorts
27. Sexually oriented businesses
28. Accessory buildings incidental to special approval uses

I can't really type, so it took me ten minutes to do the above so if you need more information, go to the twp and get it. there is a chapter on uses subject to special land use approval and definitions of things like camgrounds and recreational facilities.

By the way, the township rezoned it C-2 with nothing spelled out as to what can go on the property. Therefore, it appears, anything listed could be put there if the voters allow rezone.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 8:15 am    Post subject: Where are the proponents? Reply with quote

The people who are for changing the property to C-2 are holding their cards very close to their chest. I feel a bombshell coming and I think it will be through the townships mouth. If you want to hear that mouth, come to the meeting on the 20th.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 4:24 pm    Post subject: Who can vote? Reply with quote

Doug, I didn't no that we had over one hundred places here that meet the requirement "true, fixed and permanent home to which, whenever absent, he or she intends to return." That means that there are about 30 or 40 that stay through the winter, and the rest fall into the group that intend to return. That number would be over sixty at least.

By the way, has anyone heard what the official reason [alleged wrong] is for having a special township meeting. So far I can only speculate.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:06 am    Post subject: Spot Zoning Def. Reply with quote

I wanted to know the definition of spot zoning so I googled it, and this is what the first hit said:

spot zoning n. a provision in a general plan which benefits a single parcel of land by creating a zone for use just for that parcel and different from the surrounding properties in the area.
Spot zoning is not favored, since it smacks of favoritism and usually annoys neighbors.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:02 pm    Post subject: mike Reply with quote

I appreciate all the post you wrote Mike .. thank you
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:57 am    Post subject: It's a political smear tactic Reply with quote

We got our mail last night. In it was a slick letter from Loren Gibbons explaining the opposite position to the letter posted here. In it he mentions a violation of the open meetings act. I got the act and read it. I presume that Loren read it too.

If the upcoming meeting is to address a violation of the open meetings act, then I would consider it a political witch hunt, a smear tactic. The reason I say that is that it is plain as day that no violation occurred. See act 267 of 1976, MCL 15.263(10).

In light of the sequence of events, and the underhanded way that they are attempting to destroy my wifes good name, I have resigned from the fire department. It makes me sick.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never been to a rezoning meeting (especially changing it to commercial) where the specific plans did not have to be layed out to the planning committee before the zoning request is voted on.

Here is how it would normally go:
    Submit the request to the Planning Committee along with the detailed plans for the property.
    A special meeting is held for the public to give their opinion on the rezoning request. Minutes of this meeting are made available to the public.
    Planning committe votes on request after getting public's opinion.
Who requested the rezoning and what do they plan to do with the property?

How can the voters make this decision without knowing what is being done with the property? Nothing gets rezoned commercial without a specific plan for the property and it doesn't appear that anyone knows what that is.
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