2017-06-08 / Views

Let’s vote in Elmwood

Please, Elmwood Township, go ahead and pass your zoning ordinance.

We’ve watched with a variety of emotions — disappointment to amazement — as Leelanau’s most populous township has crept through a rewrite of its ordinance. The process started under former supervisor Noel Flohe.

He served way back from 2000-2004.

Mr. Flohe was ousted in the 2004 election by Derith Smith, who supposedly rode a tide of reform into office. A group of residents took issue with the first crack at a new Zoning Ordinance, which was approved by the Township Board, in particular, the group opposed a provision allowing one-acre lots on agriculturally zoned land. Those in office who supported the ordinance countered that lot splits that small would not be allowed in most cases.

But over-development was a concern. A referendum petition rejected the ordinance.

An ensuing recall of the entire Township Board failed.

Then Ms. Smith was elected, followed by four years of near-chaos in local governing. Paranoia crept into nearly everything the township did. She was the wrong person for the office at a critical time in township history.

Credit recently retired supervisor Jack Kelly, who served two four-year terms starting in 2008, with providing stability and restoring confidence in township governing. But the chore of getting a rewritten zoning ordinance approved has fallen into the administration of supervisor Jeff Shaw.

We keep hearing that the Township Board is close. Perhaps a few veteran board members recall too well the controversies of past years. Or maybe all board members are a bit leery of the effect a new ordinance might have on would-be winery owner Frank Noverr and his neighbors who want to zone quiet nights and light traffic into their lives. Both have been represented by lawyers who have cast keen eyes on the proposed ordinance.

Regardless, the Planning Commission has finished its work. The resulting product isn’t perfect, and never will be. There’s something in there for everyone to like — and oppose.

But the sheer volume of work put into the ordinance demands a vote. A stack of checks has been made out to professional planners involved. And Planning Commission members have spent meeting after meeting debating its merits.

The time has come to move forward.

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