2017-08-31 / Views

Seeing value in views from M-72

We recall a land-use study that years ago suggested a proactive approach to preserve the agrarian viewshed from M-72 to Empire.

Well, that time is here. And township planning commissions across the southern tier of Leelanau County will have some important decisions before them.

Individually, they will determine how many party stores, gas stations and subdivisions will line a state highway that serves as the front porch for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Collectively, those decisions will determine the personality of one of two “gateway” highways into the county.

As there are no villages or communities along M-72, we suggest caution in addressing rezoning requests. One has already been floated in Elmwood Township for the corner of M-72 and Bugai Road on property owned by trustee Terry Lautner. Elmwood planners didn’t like the concept, but left the door open for future discussion.

A residential development is being eyed along M-72 farther west in Solon Township.

And Empire Township is looking at moving its fire hall to M-72 a few miles east of the village.

Some of M-72 will be developed, make no mistake. There’s already plenty of land zoned commercial along the stretch.

We prefer caution, though, in encouraging or even allowing more M-72 development, which should be channeled into existing communities such as Cedar and Maple City.

In some respects, M-72 remains the “Route 66” of Leelanau County. Change is inevitable, of course, as occurred to America’s Highway when the interstate freeway system was built.

But perhaps recognizing the value of M-72 today will continue its legacy into tomorrow.

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