Cool Cities Warmed Over

Gov. Rick Snyder has issued the first in a series of special messages on policy issues to the Michigan Legislature. In his first policy message, he chose to address community development and local government reforms. The local government reform policy recommendations are good, the community development recommendations not so much.

He opens up the policy portion of the message by writing: "Neighborhoods, cities and regions are awakening to the importance of 'place' in economic development. They are planning for a future that recognizes the critical importance of quality of life to attracting talent, entrepreneurship and encouraging local business." This language is eerily reminiscent of the sort of happy talk we heard from former Gov. Jennifer Granholm as she touted her failed "Cool Cities" initiative. Even more disturbing, Gov. Snyder had this to say about government land-use planning in the Traverse City area: "In Traverse City, a unique partnership called 'Grand Vision' has engaged the entire Traverse Bay Region in developing a new blueprint for cooperation on building the transportation, educational and broadband infrastructure necessary to compete in the global economy."

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The "Grand Vision" is a grand threat to property rights of many landowners in the region. I have talked to many property owners in the area who have had to organize to fight many off the "smart growth" principles of the "Grand Vision," which threatens their ability to develop and enjoy their property if the use of their property does not conform to the utopian goals of some urban planner.

If Gov. Snyder is truly concerned about the economic well-being of Michigan communities, he should reject the failed policies of "smart growth" — which are neither — and instead concentrate on strengthening laws that protect property and supporting legislation to reduce the red tape that strangles development and chases away jobs throughout Michigan. We cannot afford to have other Michigan communities suffer a fate similar to that of Detroit.