August 28, 2013 - A lot happened while I was on vacation and now that I'm back in a column-writing mood, I thought I'd do a wee bit of opining.
First of all, bravo to the Oxford Township Board for unanimously refusing to support Oakland County Parks' desire to turn 860 acres of the Koenig Sand & Gravel site into a park centered around off-road vehicle (ORV) use.
I've written a ton about this issue since I first broke the story back in March, but I purposely didn't comment on it mainly for two reasons.
One, I was fairly certain local officials would reject it. An ORV park abutting residential areas had about as much chance of finding political support as a landfill or a prison.
The NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) principle will always be a powerful force in local politics.
Two, I just wanted to see how things would play out without intervening. Sometimes it's fun to be Switzerland.
I'm glad the park project didn't go forward because as I've stated before on numerous occasions, we don't need any more park land. We have more than enough.
And we definitely don't need any more property disappearing from the tax rolls just so government can justify its existence with new projects that can be added to glossy marketing brochures.
I'd much rather see the 1,200-acre Koenig site developed into single family homes someday, most of which would be on 5-acre lots based on the current zoning. To me, that's a reasonable density for an area that wishes to maintain its rural character.
A nice housing development would translate into more property owners to share the tax burden, more families to spend money at local businesses, more potential volunteers and donors for our local charities and more subscribers for the local newspaper.
I'm definitely not part of any fanatical minority that believes the Koenig site should never be developed into anything under any circumstances.
Koenig's owner has a right to sell his land and profit by it just like anyone else. That right trumps anyone's desire to see it remain a quasi-nature preserve.
I suggest that anyone who wants that land to remain as is forever should get together with other like-minded individuals, pool their money, buy it and pay the taxes.
Otherwise, they should mind their own business.
Next, I say kudos to the Oxford Village Council for approving the planned unit development agreement that will allow Merge Studio & Gallery to relocate to 33 Pleasant St.
I'm glad to see that council didn't let emotions or irrational hypothetical fears prevent it from doing the right thing for both the community and Merge.
Finally, the 113-year-old grain elevator, which has been a dismal eyesore for many years, is going to have a new lease on life as a vibrant business.
Merge owners Karey and Tim Collins are taking quite a gamble by purchasing and renovating this dilapidated property. They should be applauded for their entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take such a big risk.
Hopefully, their investment will not only benefit their business, but also increase surrounding property values and improve the overall impression of that side of town.
Better to have a thriving business full of creative-types and customers than a rundown old building full of wild creatures, delinquent teenagers and other nuisances.
Plus, the village is getting a vacant, unused piece of municipal-owned property transformed into a public parking lot at absolutely no cost to the taxpayers.
That's definitely a good deal for everyone.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.