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A rant and a rave

June 09, 2010 - Sometimes it works the way it's supposed to, other times it doesn't. This week, one example of each, courtesy of my Orion Township beat.

Exhibit A's on the front page. The Orion Township Planning Commission spent the better part of four hours at one meeting both discussing and "listening" to concerns—some unfounded, some quite valid, far as I could tell—about the new senior center. Sorry, the community center; specifically, it's location and operation.

Anyway, all these folks show up at a meeting to voice concerns about a million different things, and many make their way back to the podium three and four times. Some ask questions I've already heard answered. Others want to know if the commissioners have actually walked down Bald Mountain Road, where many of these folks live, to see what's at risk when the bulldozers come a-rumblin.'

They want to know about environmental hazards to the wetlands back there, and what about the M-24/Clarkston Road/Buckhorn Lake flooding issue. Is this project going to make it worse?

But lets not be harsh. The planning commission sure was hospitable to those Bald Mountain Road-area folks, even at the end, when, despite all those questions and pleas to slow down, and what's the big hurry, the planning commission rendered it's vote: Full Steam Ahead!

One commissioner was kind enough to explain, although she preempted the explanation by explaining she was explaining through the chair, who's supposed to do the explaining. No one asked her to explain that any further, and I couldn't help but feel grateful. It was a little weird.

Anyway, through the chair she explained (and I paraphrase), listen, folks, we hear you, we do, but really we don't. We can't, you see, because we have no choice in the matter. We can't say no (she actually said that). We can't give our opinions. We have to say yes to this project because it meets ordinance specifications, including our own special land use rules (but not 32 in this particular case).

Oh! Did we forget to tell you'd be ignored while we were listening to you? And now deep-vein thrombosis has set in? Sorry! (that part's paraphrased for sure, or entirely made up).

I'd be a little upset if I were one of those folks on or near Bald Mountain Drive, and I wouldn't be one bit fooled by that 'We heard you!' speech. I bet they're not, either.

On the other hand, I'd be feeling pretty pleased with myself if I were one of the medical marijuana folks (see Exhibit B, page 5) who spoke at the township board meeting Monday night.

I'd be a little surprised. Shocked, even, but happy. 'Wow,' I'd be thinking, if I were one of them. 'They seemed to actually hear me. Maybe my voice actually made a difference. Maybe I should keep speaking up and paying attention to what my local government's doing. They heard me, and maybe, because of what I said, they made a better decision!'

So kudos, to the folks who came out and gave the Orion Township board the what's what. And kudos to the board, particularly to Mark Crane who threw the first pitch, for hearing those folks -- and, by your actions, letting them know their voices matter.

Lake Orion Review Editor
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