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 · ‘Sacred’ Land or a Fair...
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‘Sacred’ Land or a Fair Swap?

Word of a state park land deal worries some Charlevoix neighbors

Patrick Sullivan - May 19th, 2014  

Talks between the state and a cement plant to swap land at Fisherman’s Island State Park near Charlevoix have some neighbors on edge.

They’ve formed an opposition group and Facebook page called “Save Fisherman’s Island” to rally support against the trade.

A spokesman for St. Marys Cement Inc. says that the company is working with neighbors to come up with a plan for the park that could benefit everyone.

They are currently forming a committee of residents to evaluate and make recommendations about the plan.


St. Marys has not submitted a proposal to the state, though they have held two meetings with the Department of Natural Resources about a land trade since 2011.

They also received permission last year to conduct test drilling to determine if the land they want is suitable for a limestone quarry.

The swap would involve 190 acres in the north going to St. Marys in exchange for 220 acres to be added to the south of the park, according to preliminary plans.

St. Marys wants the swap because it would consolidate their land, reduce fuel costs for work in the quarry, and create a larger buffer between them and neighbors.

Opponents say the swap would relocate the park entrance miles further away from Charlevoix, that the offered land is less pristine than the existing land, and that it would represent a corporate takeover of a public park.

The controversial tone stems from an accidental discovery of a test drilling operation, which was spotted by a park visitor last fall and led to allegations from opponents that a secret deal was in the works.

Anne Zukowski, a Charlevoix resident and member of Save Fisherman’s Island, recalled becoming alarmed after she happened upon the drilling rig.

“We saw people drilling out there and they wouldn’t talk to us at all,” Zukowski said. “They wouldn’t tell us why they were drilling or anything.”


Cox said St. Marys was not trying to sneak something through.

Indeed, a secret land swap wouldn’t be possible, said Rich Hill, Gaylord district supervisor of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. Hill said it is not unusual for talks to take place between a company and the department prior to the submission of a formal proposal.

Once submitted, one of this magnitude would require an extensive process that would involve public participation, he said.

“The folks that were worried that we were trying to do this and trying to fly under the radar, that’s absolutely not true,” Hill said.

Still, Jo Anne Beemon, one of the leaders of Save Fisherman’s Island, doesn’t put it past the state and a private company to conspire to push a real estate deal through quietly.

She believes it’s up to groups like hers to keep watch.

“It used to be that state parks were sacred,” Beemon said. “What is sad is that those who are in charge of protecting the public trust haven’t been as responsible as they were in the past, so more and more citizens have to step up to the plate.”


For a swap to occur, it would have to be approved by the DNR and, because the park has received federal funding, the National Park Service.

A provision in the Land & Water Conversion Fund Act says parkland that has received federal funds can be traded for other land, but it needs to be of equal value.

That’s the point the sides are unlikely to disagree on.

Asked if he thought what’s being offered is equal to what would be taken away, Cox referred the question to the Code of Federal Regulations, which lays out the definition of what’s considered “reasonably equivalent.”

“Someone other than us is going to have to decide that,” Cox said.

There’s lots of fine print. All practical alternatives have to be ruled out. Federal appraisal standards have to be used.

Ultimately, the land traded for must be “of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location as that being converted,” according to the federal language, which attempts to make a subjective process as objective as possible.

Swap opponents say there is no comparison between the two parcels. The existing parcel is forested, attractive parkland, and the swap parcel is “scrub,” Beemon said.

“It’s laughable, when you look at what they want to give and what they want to take,” Beemon said. “Basically, what this comes down to is there are 450 acres of Fisherman’s Island State Park land in Charlevoix Township, and a company is looking at that and it’s licking its chops and they want to quarry that land.”


Opponents also worry about how a swap could force the entrance to the park miles south from where it is today.

The history of the park is one of further and further separation from the residents of Charlevoix, Beemon said.

When it was opened almost a hundred years ago, the park was a short hike from Charlevoix’s southern neighborhoods. Since the cement plant opened, that operation has been a growing obstacle between the park and Charlevoix residents.

If the park entrance were moved several miles further from Charlevoix, that would mean the park would no longer be a comfortable bike ride from town for families with children, Beemon said.

Also, an already in-the-works bike path is planned to end at the current park entrance, not several miles south in Norwood Township.

Although it wasn’t part of the original land swap plan, it’s possible the park’s current entrance on Bell’s Bay Road could remain a park entrance or a bike path entrance, Cox said.

He said St. Marys is open to considering the objections of opponents and making changes.

Opponents remain weary, however.

Beemon believes St. Marys could promise one thing to get the swap through and then deliver something else once it’s done.


Not everyone sees it that way. Nancy Ferguson, president of WATCH, or Water and Air Team for Charlevoix, an environmental group that looks out for the county’s water and air quality, said she believes residents should listen to St. Marys’ proposal with an open mind.

She’s been involved with WATCH for 15 years and said St. Marys has been a better neighbor than previous cement plant operators.

Years ago, under a different operator, WATCH received several complaints a month from neighbors. Today, Ferguson said, it’s been years since WATCH received a complaint.

Currently WATCH is officially against the land swap.

“However, we are in favor of a committee to look at it with other groups,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson attended a Charlevoix Township meeting about the swap where she said some people strongly opposed it and others appeared to believe the park could be improved in a swap.

“Will it be as aesthetically pretty as it is now?

Probably not,” Ferguson said. “There are good reasons why there might be no change and there are good reasons for there to be change. And it might be good for Charlevoix.”

She said the goodwill St. Marys has created for itself in the community doesn’t mean they should automatically receive support for the swap, however.

“They’ve been very good neighbors,” Ferguson said. “But does that mean we owe them this change? It doesn’t. This is a very different thing.”

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