The Stars and Stripes have been proudly flying over a Belle Tire store since its recent opening on Grand River Avenue in Meridian Township near Lansing. Not so fast, says the Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals, which ruled by a 5-0 vote that the flag must be taken down according to a report in the Lansing State Journal.
Meridian Township officials have concluded that the American flag in question is too large and does not comport with their requirement that flags cannot be larger than 5 feet by 7 feet. Belle Tire, a Michigan-based company, had originally requested they be allowed to fly a 20-by-30 foot flag, which is their standard at 46 other stores. Belle Tire reduced its request to an 8-by-12 flag in order to placate township officials, but apparently that's not good enough.
Architect/consultant Christopher Enright said: ”Most municipalities don’t regulate the size of the American flag at each location. It’s important to the company to have that flag at each location.”
The Belle Tire flag fray is less about patriotism and more about local government controls that are out of control. The cost of doing business in Michigan is high in no small part due to local government zoning ordinances that are much more onerous than in many other states. I was contacted by a fast food franchise developer who informed me that it costs on average $160,000 more to develop a fast food restaurant in Michigan than in Indiana. He attributed the bulk of the extra cost to the extensive land use requirements placed on developers by many municipalities in the state.
Meridian Township may be a poster child for onerous land use regulations, but the township is certainly not unique in Michigan. The Legislature is starting to focus its attention on the regulatory bureaucracy which is stifling job creation in the state; its next target should be overregulation by local government.