DETROIT-The public meetings of the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council have begun, with the first held April 14. Four more monthly meetings remain before the council will bring smart growth recommendations to Gov. Jennifer Granholm by Aug. 15.

Two public hearings will also be held by the council, to listen to residentconcerns and comments about growth and how it should be planned out for thestate. These two meetings will be held at three communities in the stateApril 21, and three more communities April 28.

Hans Voss, executive director of the Michigan Land Use Institute, saideveryone should attend the hearings to provide input on how to build thestate with intelligence.

“Michigan’s land drives our economy, defines our landscape and shapes ourlives,” Voss said in a recent letter to those interested in property usage.”To preserve that rich natural heritage, the council must establish a boldnew vision for Michigan. It must build a sturdy framework for a new stateSmart Growth program.”

Specifically, the institute has four recommendations for the council tostudy. These include enacting formal state land use goals, eliminating statesubsidies that encourage sprawl, promote regional coordination andcooperation and the creation of an Office of Smart Growth at the statelevel.

Granholm recently told the council that she’s counting on the manypolitical, administrative and business members to come together to createbetter land use policies.

“This issue of our land and how we best use it has been sitting on the shelffor far too long,” Granholm said. “And every hour that it sits, ten moreacres of our land disappears. Every year that it sits, sprawl and landconsumption win. It’s not the non-use of our land. It’s the wise use of it.”

She is fighting for the preservation of land, including 3,228miles of waterfront, and to stop in place the 300,000 acres of farmland thathave been sacrificed to sprawl in the last 10 years.

She also said that growth needs to be turned back to established urbanareas, to rebuild the infrastructure in cities and stop moving growthfurther and further out.

“The resulting impact on our land base is significant. Millions of squarefeet of commercial space have been closed down, with replacements beingconstructed in new communities. We are gobbling up land at a rate that ourpopulation won’t support, the land base won’t maintain and that we can nolonger tolerate,” she said to the council.

The council will hold monthly meetings, open to the public, at the BojiTower in downtown Lansing, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next meeting dates areMay 12, June 9, July 7, and August 4.

The public hearings will be held April 21 (Gaylord, Marquette, and Pontiac)and on April 28 (Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Lansing.) Each location willoffer two sessions: 3 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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