Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Leeding the way/Green homes
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Leeding the way/Green homes

Erin Crowell - April 19th, 2010
LEEDing the Way: What it takes to create a model ‘green’ home
By Erin Crowell
When it comes to living green, it’s about getting the most bang for your
buck without leaving a considerable carbon footprint in your wake. The
U.S. Green Building Council has developed a standard that allows
homeowners to do just that through its LEED program (Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design).
LEED provides verification that a building was designed and built with a
focus on “energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction,
improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and
sensitivity to their impacts.”
Northern Michigan is now home to such a building: Located near Kingsley,
the Granite Hill project is a LEED-certified home, rated gold on a
100-point scale. Other categories include platinum, silver and bronze
It’s the first LEED home in Grand Traverse County, earning national awards
for its ‘green’ assets and serving as a model home for the 2009 Michigan
Energy Fair.
“It’s really exciting to be at the forefront, We take a lot of pride in
it,” says Joel Diotte of Frontier Construction, who, along with partners
Matt Diotte and Pete Stern, was the builder for the Granite Hill project.
Frontier specializes in green construction, although Granite Hill, named
for the collection of granite rock on the lot, is the company’s first LEED
The company’s main construction product is insulating concrete forms —
steel reinforced concrete with foam insulation and poured concrete on the
inside. Diotte says it’s the most energy efficient building system
available, which is why Frontier was recommended for the Granite Hill

Insulated concrete forms provide just a fraction of the energy-saving
products inside the home.
“There’s a whole slew of things that make it energy efficient and
environmentally friendly,” says Diotte.
The list includes James Hardie fiber cement siding, Energy Star rated
metal roof shingle with 30% recycled material, Low-E argon gas-filled
Anderson Windows, soy-based insulation, stained concrete floors, radon
venting, dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, Zero VOC
(volatile organic compounds) paint, compact fluorescent bulbs, Energy Star
appliances and more.
“The soy byproduct insulation is the same as petroleum based, but it’s 100
percent renewable product,” says Diotte.
The home also features a solar hot water heater “which works so well, that
the homeowners called me in November saying they couldn’t use both
showers,” says Diotte, “They’d been living there for four months and
didn’t even have the electric water heater turned on. They were using just
the solar hot water heater. A lot of people question whether solar hot
water heaters work in Michigan, but they do. It’s the most cost effective
renewable energy source.”

Designed by Eric Hughes of Image Design in Grand Rapids, the house boasts
a passive solar design, an architectural trick that civilization has long
“People used to think of the design a long time ago, and just don’t any
more,” says the homeowner (who wishes to remain anonymous).
He points to the Anasazi tribe of New Mexico, which occupied mainly cliff
and mesa-top dwellings around 1,000 AD.
The tribe situated their dwellings so that the winter sun would fill and
warm the space during the season; and during the summer, the position of
the sun would mostly keep the dwellings under shade.
“Houses used to be designed like this in the early 1900s and when heat
became cheaper, people were like, ‘screw it,’” he adds.
The Granite Project uses passive solar design in the same capacity, with
overhangs that shield the house from the highest point of the sun; and in
the winter, sunlight floods and encompasses the space. The house was also
placed on the lot that would give it the best angle in relation to the

For the Granite Hill project, the average cost was $130 per square foot.
“Not much more than a stick frame house of the same construction and
size,” says Diotte.
He explains the goal of LEED certification is to not have the house cost
more than what a typical house would cost.
The house relies on zero fossil fuels and maintains an average utility
bill of $85 per month, year-round.
“Since September, it’s actually been down to $75 on average,” says the
homeowner, who also points to their Tulikivi masonry heater as their
primary source of heat.
“My wife actually makes the comment a lot about our families’ homes
downstate that use forced air, and when we go to visit we would say, ‘man
this place is cold,’ and their heat is at 70 degrees,” he says. “In our
house, when we’ve got a fire going, it’s shorts and t-shirts, no problem.”
The masonry stove, directly shipped from Finland, was the biggest up-front
cost in the Granite Hill project, “but so worth it in the long run,” adds
the homeowner. “We felt bad about shipping 900 pounds from Finland. That’s
a pretty big carbon footprint. But then, we thought… you do that once, and
you’ll never have to hook up to carbon gas again. All of our future heat
will be from the backwoods.”
The homeowners invested 2.5 years of research before breaking ground,
mostly to ensure the safest, healthiest and most cost-effective home for
their budget.
“We try to maximize benefit for cost. Some ideas come from the builder,
the homeowner and the designer,“ says Diotte.
The LEED certification seemed like a great way to get everyone on board.
It gave us a guideline to follow,” says the homeowner.
Currently, there is no tax break for buildings that are LEED certified.
However, there is a plan in legislation that will give breaks according to
the level of certification based on points. Energy Star is the only tax
break incentive, offering a break for homes that are 30 percent more
efficient than the standard in 1980.
“Which isn’t that great,” says Diotte. “If the tax break goes through,
then LEED will be the future of green building. It’s definitely the most
The homeowners say they are proud to have the first LEED certified home in
Grand Traverse County and believe they won’t be the last.
“I hope to see more of it around here,” he says. “You don’t have to build
a half million dollar house to do it. We didn’t.”

Frontier Construction is located in Maple City. For more information on
services and upcoming projects, visit their website at
www.frontier-construction.com or call 231-360-3534. For Image Design,
visit imagedesignllc.blogspot.com or call 616-957-LEED.

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