I have to agree with Jim Reed that the direction of the currently stated planning deserves discussion. I think we have a much more open minded set of leaders now that what we have had before, and that they are willing to listen to different perspectives and consider alternative approaches to what they seek; Stable revenue to operate the community with.
Classically in Michigan this has meant sprawl. There was a blog written recently that addressed this: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/07/22/how-sprawl-got-detroit-into-this-mess/
While Clarkston/Independence isn't Detroit, much can be learned from the lack of planning that has plagued the region. For one, although there may be a net tax increase created by the suggested growth that was identified in the CN article Reed refers to, there has not been a sufficient analysis of the negative aspects of that "growth" and the expense/ problems that comes with it. Unless you measure something, you will not give it the attention it deserves.
I believe there are ways to generate "growth" that will be healthy that will not additionally cause congestion, environmental impacts and change the unique nature of where we hang our hats. But it means slowing down and including the public in a more engaging and inclusive way.
There is a broad range of expertise woven throughout our residents that has not typically been tapped because they operate in a more grass roots manner. They are a valuable resource that must be included in discussions.
I know I've droned on about the Stormwater Program over the years, but it is truly a missed opportunity because of the way its obligations are being fulfilled. There is a significant opportunity just waiting to be revealed if it were used as the planning document/structure that it is intended to be....something that can meet the needs of sustaining the quality and natural aspect that makes this community special, while still allowing for appropriate growth.
Currently it is nothing more than a boiler plate document that allows a checklist to be submitted that suggests we are all in compliance without accomplishing anything meaningful.
Not only that, but using the stormwater program in the manner in which I suggest, can create local jobs, volunteer opportunities and citizen engagement for those that are in the grass roots movements as well as the retired engineering community, or anyone who has an interest in the community we live it. IT includes educational opportunities for our school children, the creation of outdoor classrooms and gardens, conversion of vacant property into productive food producing community areas that double as areas for artistic expression. It creates opportunities for partnerships between technical schools, local universities and both high school students and adults who want to learn a new skill. IT has the ability to transform our community in a multitude of positive ways, But until it is recognized and utilized as the planning tool that it is, it will remain an unfunded mandate that is just one more requirement to suck away our tax dollars.
I guess I could say I've lived here for 30 years too, although not consistently. I moved away at 27 to go to college and have lived various places around the US, returning to take care of both Mom and Dad at the end of their lives. After Dad passed I begrudgingly stayed only because of the economy. Now however, I have made a conscious choice to be here, and happily so because of the community I've discovered and the variety of grass roots folks that have inspired me.
I would like to request that those in positions of power/leadership in the Township, City of Clarkston and the School District, consider what I've said, that there is an opportunity here, working together, and using this tool to our collective benefit.
I would consider it a privilege if there would be an agreement to hold a combined community meeting where these opportunities could be discussed and the program explained in a way that would be beneficial to everyone, citizens included. I'm certain that once understood, you would see an increase in citizen participation and an excitement for the process. This would also be in alignment with the CRWC's "Water Towns" and would be setting a new bar state wide in how to address the Stormwater Program.
If others agree that that this sounds just peachy and would like to see an innovative approach to how this program and growth is managed, I would like to invite you to comment.
Thanks for the soapbox.
August 16, 2013