We are residents of Henrietta Township located in Jackson County
Michigan who are concerned about the deterioration of the environment
resulting from uncontrolled growth and
low density urban sprawl.
Low density urban sprawl is turning large areas of farmland and
wildlife habitat into endless waste lands of mostly manufactured
homes dropped onto 5-10 acre plots. The developers or homeowners
turn these homesites into contiguous areas of mowed lawns which are subsequently
saturated with herbicides and pesticides by individuals who are not
educated or sensitive to the needs of the animal and plant communities
for a relatively chemical free environment..
HEAT- Henrietta Environmental Action Team was formed to provide
information and solutions to help residents of the township avoid
and/or mitigate the consequences of uncontrolled urban sprawl.
The attitude that moving to the country and being a "real man" demands
a house, 10 acres of perfectly green weed and grub free mowed lawn and
all the other things attendant to that lifestyle must be turned around.
People need to understand that contiguous areas of natural undisturbed habitat
are essential to the bio-diversity and survival of our non-human stakeholders
in this world.
Uncontrolled development is becoming a recognized problem of vast magnitude
throughout the United States. Farmland is being destroyed through subdivision
without regard to the needs of our furry friends or our future food supplies.
Irresponsible large tract landowners, real estate concerns and petty developers/
builders are the greatest threats to our environmental well being.
Restrictive zoning solutions such as Planned Unit Developments requiring
clustered high density housing and large areas of natural
open space are opposed by these petty developers who do not possess the
planning abilities nor financing resources to develop such projects.
Such developments are opposed by Real Estate interest who generally would
not be involved in marketing such projects. These two groups, with their
powerful lobbies reject any attempts to control growth. When enhancing
their personal income and wealth is pitted against controlled development,
they choose the former.
When our country was first settled, farmers burned out the land then
moved "West" to farm and burn out the next parcel. The concept of
"ownership rights" that developed gave the farmers the right to do
anything they chose with "their" land.
This archaic concept is still rampant today. Instead of recognizing
that owning a farm carries with it some custodial obligations to preserve
the land for future generations, all too many farmers feel that it is
their right to destroy forever, the sources of food production and
natural cover for the "other" creatures. Just like the farmers of old
who burned out the land and moved on, these modern day farmers chop up
the land, sell it and move on the Florida. The folks that are engaged
in such destructive activities need to be educated. If that fails, they
need to be stopped by zoning restrictions or direct action as needed.
Under the leadership of Governor Granholm, the State of Michigian,
has finally become aware of the threat posed by uncontrolled growth
and has started to take action on this issue by creation of the
Michigan Land Use
Leadership Council. A key area being addressed currently is the sale
of farm land. When agricultural land is sold, the new buyer
is required to pay the escalated taxes based on inflated development
value. This prices the land out of the range for
any new farmer and in most cases out of the range of a son or daughter
inheiriting a farm from a parent. This incentive to sell and divide farm lands must
be stopped. The tax rates on farm land must be escalated only for
inflation as long as the land stays in agricultural usage even when
changing ownership. The tax rates need to be reduced also in recognition
of the contribution that farmers make to the overall well being of our society.
Our intention is to make township resident aware of such problems and
promote the passage of responsible township zoning ordinances which
promote controlled and nature friendly growth. We support changing the
tax structure regarding agricultural land through legislative action.
We support "direct action" to prevent development/s which do not adhere to
the concept of providing contiguous open spaces and farmland preservation.