Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Vote ‘yes‘ in Acme to control big-box stores and chart our future

William G. Milliken - July 28th, 2005
Residents of Acme Township will head to the polls August 2 to decide whether to allow the township board nine months to develop new rules for managing big-box stores. The elected board already approved a nine-month moratorium on such stores while it studies the matter, but a petition drive put the action to a vote.
I urge Acme residents to cast a “yes” vote and place the township’s, and indeed the region’s, interest ahead of an impatient few.
I’ll confess to a personal interest in the outcome. I spent a memorable part of my childhood in Acme, exploring its natural places with my family and friends. Many of those places still exist and afford new generations of children the same joy I’ve known. Nine months strikes me as a very small investment to protect something so priceless as Acme’s rural character and quality of life.
What’s behind this concern over big-box stores? For many like me, the fear is the hidden costs that underpin the behemoth retailers – costs borne not by the stores, but forced onto the communities they inhabit. These outlets promise low prices but can drive up local taxes to pay for the big problems that don’t show up on their products’ price tags. Problems such as heavy traffic congestion, lost farmland, shuttered local shops, and weakened downtowns.
At their worst, big-box stores are little more than windowless warehouses with gaudy signs out front that cost communities more than they save them. We do not accept such negative impacts and shabby design with our homes, schools, or places of worship. So why when we go shopping, should we be expected to forfeit tax dollars and community character as the price of admission?
Of course, we should not.
The big-box lesson from across the nation is this: Communities attract quality growth when they and their residents help develop a vision for their future and the laws to make it so. By doing so, they welcome creative entrepreneurs who provide the goods and services that people need and desire.
Acme Township is already halfway there. It has a vision for a compact town center akin to that in nearby Elk Rapids, but lacks a zoning ordinance to foster it. The nine-month moratorium would allow the township board and residents to figure out the best way to manage the size, design, and location of large-scale commercial growth.
The threat to Acme Township is growing. Today, only one store there, Kmart, truly merits the “big-box” label. Meijer, however, is proposing to build a store in Acme more than two-and-a-half times larger than Kmart, and mega-retailer Wal-Mart has long eyed the township too. Right now, Acme has no way to control such development because its current zoning allows big-box stores of unlimited size in many locations.
I think a “yes” vote on August 2 is a vote for true local control. The harm big-box stores do to communities is significant and long-term. Even if you find yourself shopping at such stores, I hope you would agree that acting to eliminate or lessen their negative effects is reasonable. To me, it’s the difference between growing by choice or by chance.
Charlevoix and Charlevoix Township recently passed local laws controlling big-box development. Many places across the United States have done the same, and the major retailers now are designing smaller, smarter stores to be able to compete in those places.
Acme Township now faces that challenge, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Garfield Township, just south of Traverse City, has boomed big-box growth for a decade. And Blair Township, the next ring outward from the city, is experiencing the same pressures.
Acme can and should get a handle on this spiraling sprawl. The entire Grand Traverse region, in fact, sorely needs to coordinate its growth plans and laws before reckless development mars the last remnants of rural character.
Indeed, I draw hope from and endorse the fledgling Grand Traverse land use and transportation study, which aims to involve citizens and officials in charting a regional growth strategy. I continue to believe, like the study participants do, that engaging and empowering the public yields lasting results.
The debate in Acme is not about gaining this store or that. Rather, it’s about what the township could lose forever if shortsightedness prevails and big-box stores are allowed to trample Acme’s rural heritage.
As someone who has had the honor to steward all of Michigan’s 37 million acres of land, I say without hesitation that Acme’s acres are as worthy of protection and wise planning as any. I believe we must meet today’s challenges eagerly – but patiently – if we are to keep our promise to our children and grandchildren of a better tomorrow.

William G. Milliken, a Republican, was governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1982 — the longest serving governor in the state’s history. In 2003 he was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to co-chair the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council, which recommended steps the state needs to take to slow sprawl, rebuild cities, conserve natural resources, and improve the state’s economic competitiveness.

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