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LANSING, MI-House Bills 4995, 5029 and 5029 dealing with open space issues that must be followed by developers passed the State House of Representatives Tuesday. The bills, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Johnson, passed by a large majority and will now go before the state Senate.

The bills require counties, townships, cities and villages with zoning ordinances to include certain open space preservation provisions in those ordinances within six months after the bills took effect. The mandatory provisions would allow an owner of land zoned for residential redevelopment to build in a portion of the developable land area the same number of dwelling units that otherwise could have been built in the entire developable area, provided certain conditions were met.

For townships, dwellings could be concentrated in up to 50 percent of the land area, and for cities and villages in up to 80 percent of the land area. However, the required adoption of open space preservation provisions would not apply if a county, township, city or village had certain zoning ordinance provisions (to be described later) in effect on or before the enactment date of the bills.

Reps. Joe Rivet, Jim Plakas, Mike Murphy, Clarence Phillips and Glenn Anderson said they voted against the bills because they mandate local units amend zoning ordinances for a purpose that may not apply to them.

Kevin W. Korpi, Director Environmental & Regulatory Affairs, wrote a letter last week to the House Land Use and Environment Committee suggesting changes to the bills. “In reviewing HB 4995, our members have concerns related to how effective this legislation will actually be in the real world. Most believe this legislation is limited in scope and will not help in making smarter growth decisions. Unfortunately, some believe the current version of the bill may actually accelerate the build out rate of urban sprawl,” he said in the letter.

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